Population of California town torched by wildfire down 90%

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — New figures released by California Gov. Gavin Newsom show the town of Paradise has lost over 90% of its population since a wildfire killed 85 people last year.

A door-to-door survey in April counted 2,034 residents, down from previously released state figures that showed the population had declined to nearly 4,600 as of Jan. 1.

The 2010 census estimated 26,800 people lived in the town in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

The November fire destroyed much of Paradise and neighboring communities, becoming the nation’s deadliest wildfire in nearly a century.

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Rebuilding has recently begun. The first permits to rebuild two of the 11,000 homes destroyed were issued in March.

Newsom certified Paradise as a rural area Thursday, making it eligible for loans, grants and assistance under federally funded rural development programs.

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