Catastrophic Northern California fire is finally contained

A massive 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, authorities said Sunday.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the Camp fire 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 that more people were alive.

Crews continued sifting through ash and debris for human remains.

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

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

The firefight got a boost last week from the first significant winter storm to hit California. It dropped an estimated 7 inches (18 centimeters) 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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