First building permits issued for Paradise November wildfire reconstruction

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Damage is seen in a Paradise, California, neighborhood, Nov. 17, 2018, near where soldiers from the California Army National Guard's 649th Engineer Company, 579th Engineer Battalion, 49th Military Police Brigade, conducted debris clearing operations in support of state agencies conducting search operations days after the Camp Fire overran the town. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Crystal Housman)

Paradise has issued its first building permits to rebuild some of the 11,000 homes destroyed by wildfires that killed 85 people last November.

Published reports say the city issued the first permit on March 28 to Jason and Meagann Buzzard, who said they never intended to leave the town of 27,000 people.

“We were 100 per cent intent on rebuilding in Paradise,” Jason Buzzard said. “It’s home. I was born and raised there. My wife was born there and so was my daughter.”

“The process was very long. I equated it to a full-time job,” he said. “There were a lot of setbacks along the way.”

The next day, on March 29, Colleen Corners said she and her husband picked up their building permit.

The rebuilding process has been slow, hampered by hazards and hurdles including contaminated drinking water in some neighbourhoods. Officials with the town’s water district say it could take as long as three years to replace the contaminated permit.

Twenty permit applications are pending inspections by state environmental officials.

Debris has been removed from an estimated 580 of the 11,000 lots where homes were damaged in the fire. Construction crews have fanned out through the city and can be seen and heard clearing lots six days a week, weather permitting, the Associated Press reported.

Paradise Mayor Jody Jones says that grants of $3,500 for owners of every damaged property were available to help pay for the permit process. Jones said she hoped the grants would encourage more applications.

“This first building permit is a sign of the resilience and perseverance that our residents have in coming back to Paradise.” Jones said. “The ball is rolling.”

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