Wednesday 18 September 2019

California wildfire finally contained after more than two weeks

FILE PHOTO: A group of U.S. Forest Service firefighters monitor a back fire while battling to save homes at the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 8, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A group of U.S. Forest Service firefighters monitor a back fire while battling to save homes at the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 8, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo
Smoke hangs over the scorched remains of Old Town Plaza following the wildfire in Paradise (Noah Berger/AP)
Left: US President Donald Trump visits homes that were ravaged by fire in Malibu, during his trip to the west coast to see first-hand the damage. Photo: REUTERS
Smoke and haze from wildfires hovers over Russian Hill (Eric Risberg/AP)
President Donald Trump visits a neighborhood impacted by the Wolsey Fire (Evan Vucci/AP)
President Donald Trump talks to Mayor Jody Jones as he visits a neighbourhood in Paradise impacted by the wildfires (Evan Vucci/AP)

Christopher Weber

The huge wildfire that killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes in northern California has been fully contained after burning for more than two weeks, US authorities have said.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the blaze had been surrounded by firefighters after several days of rain in the Paradise area.

The nation's deadliest wildfire in a century killed at least 85 people and 249 are on a list of those unaccounted for.

The number of missing dropped in recent days as officials confirmed more people were alive.

Eric Darling and his dog Wyatt searching a mobile home park in Paradise on Friday (Kathleen Ronayne/AP)
Eric Darling and his dog Wyatt searching a mobile home park in Paradise on Friday (Kathleen Ronayne/AP)

Crews continued sifting through ash and debris for human remains.

The fire began November 8 in the parched Sierra Nevada foothills and quickly spread across 240 square miles (620 square kilometres), destroying most of Paradise in a day.

Nearly 19,000 buildings, most of them homes, are gone.

Firefighters got a boost last week from the first significant winter storm to hit California.

It dropped an estimated seven inches (18 centimetres) of rain over the burn area over a three-day period without causing significant mudslides, said Hannah Chandler-Cooley of the National Weather Service.

In southern California, more residents returned to areas evacuated in a destructive fire as crews repaired power, telephone and gas utilities.

Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said they were in the last phase of repopulating Malibu and unincorporated areas of the county.

At the height of the fire, 250,000 fled their homes.

Three people died and 1,643 buildings, most of them homes, were destroyed, officials said.

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