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After devastating Caldor Fire, Grizzly Flats residents and business owners face uncertain future

Even those whose homes and businesses were saved now face a difficult choice

GRIZZLY FLATS, Calif. — As the entire Grizzly Flats area reopened Friday without restrictions for the first time since the mid-August Caldor Fire evacuation orders, many people are returning to homes and neighborhoods reduced to rubble.

But even those returning to homes or businesses that were saved now face some difficult choices. For Leanne Aalmo, that meant closing Grizzly's Pub & Grub.

"This place was so local-oriented and so great. It’s killing me; this whole move is killing me," Aalmo said.

Four years ago, the former tow-truck driver from South Lake Tahoe became an unlikely restauranteur. Her kitchen became known for its homemade sauces, soups and chilis.

But after the Caldor Fire devastated her customers' neighborhoods, and a dispute with her landlord, the pub is now closed permanently.

“I want the community to know I love them all and thank you for coming and we gave it a hell of a whack,” Aalmo said.

Employees like Melissa Gustafson lost everything in the fire.

"Just so many memories and everything," Gustafson said of her four bedroom home, destroyed in the fire. "Everything that I've ever known in the last 11 years was in that house."

Aalmo says she is considering some "radical ideas" about her next move.

"Probably to leave the community and go where there's no fire threat, and no water shortage, and it's green all over," Aalmo said. "I guess that's Kentucky. I don't know. I've never been there."


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