Science News

Paradise, Calif., Water Is Contaminated But Residents Are Moving Back Anyway

Pat Zinn's home survived the Camp Fire. She moved back in a few months ago despite warnings that the water supply could be contaminated. She says her goldfish survived the fire and are still thriving in the water coming through the taps. Kirk Siegler/NPR


Six months after the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history, the town of Paradise remains a disaster zone. Only 6 percent of the debris from last November’s Camp Fire has been hauled away. Burned out skeletons of cars, piles of toxic rubble and blackened old-growth pine trees can still be seen everywhere. The deadly fire may also have contaminated up to 173 miles of pipeline in the town’s water system with cancer-causing benzene and other volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.