News World Deadly California fires finally contained

Deadly California fires finally contained

After a rain delay, volunteers resume their search for human remains at a mobile home park in Paradise, California on November 23. Photo: AP
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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.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says the blaze has been surrounded by firefighters on Sunday after several days of rain in the Paradise area.

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

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

Crews continued sifting through ash and debris for human remains.

Firefighters work to keep flames from spreading through the Shadowbrook apartment complex as a wildfire burns through Paradise on November 9. Photo: AP

The fire began on November 8 in the parched Sierra Nevada foothills and quickly spread across 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 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.

A firefighter battles the Woolsey Fire burning a home in Malibu on November 9. Photo: AP

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 people fled their homes.

Three people died and 1643 buildings, most of them homes, were destroyed, officials said.