Residents of California town levelled by wildfire cleared to go home

Some residents of a northern California town devastated by a deadly wildfire will be allowed to return home, authorities said, nearly a month after the blaze swept through the parched Sierra Nevada foothills.

Evacuation orders will be lifted for all neighbourhoods on the eastern side of Paradise, where a fire destroyed about 14,000 homes and killed at least 85 people, Butte County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

All residents will be allowed back by Thursday, the statement said.

More than 50,000 people in Paradise and two neighbouring communities were forced to flee the wind-driven flames on November 8 that burned 240 square miles.

Authorities said 11 people are still unaccounted for after the deadliest US wildfire in at least a century.

The communities will have limited services for residents for the immediate future, and authorities urged residents to take food, water and fuel for their vehicles with them.

Residents were also warned they should not move back into residences until ash and hazardous waste have been cleared away, and they were told that rain could increase risks in fire-impacted areas for flash floods and mud and debris flows.

The ferocious fire trapped people in cars and surrounded the town’s hospital — forcing the evacuation of about 60 patients.

The hospital is still standing. Several smaller hospital buildings, including offices, were destroyed.

Officials said the hospital will reopen but have not said when.

- Press Association

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