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story.lead_photo.caption FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2018 file photo the Camp Fire rages through Paradise, Calif. Insurance claims from last month's California wildfires already are at $9 billion and expected to increase, the state's insurance commissioner announced Wednesday, Dec. 12. (AP Photo/Noah Berger, File)

All of town's fire evacuees allowed back

PARADISE, Calif. -- The remaining residents who fled from the deadliest wildfire in California history were allowed to return to their homes Saturday and assess the damage.

All evacuation orders were lifted in Paradise more than a month after the fire broke out Nov. 8, killing at least 86 people and destroying 14,000 homes in the town and nearby communities in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Authorities warned that Paradise has limited services and advised residents to use power generators and have enough food, water and fuel for their vehicles.

The Butte County health officer issued an advisory strongly urging people not to live on destroyed property until it is declared clear of hazardous waste, ash and debris.

"There is evidence from recent fires in California that homes and property destroyed by fire contain high and concerning levels of heavy metals, lead, mercury, dioxin, arsenic and other carcinogens," according to a statement by the county sheriff and the Paradise Police Department.

The county is providing masks, gloves and protective suits to reduce exposure to toxic materials.

Account of migrant girl's death disputed

Lawyers for the family of a 7-year-old girl who died while in U.S. Border Patrol custody say she did not suffer from a lack of food or water before being picked up by authorities.

Their account disputes earlier information released by U.S. officials, who said the girl had not had anything to eat or drink for days.

Border Patrol officials did not immediately comment Saturday.

Jakelin Caal and her father were taken into custody Dec. 6 near Lordsburg, N.M., by Border Patrol agents. She began throwing up and later stopped breathing while being transported to a Border Patrol station. She died at a hospital.

A statement from the family's lawyers says her father, Nery Gilberto Caal Cuz, 29, made sure his daughter had food and water as they traveled through Mexico.

Park honoring slave owner is renamed

The Alexandria, Va., City Council decided unanimously Saturday to name a refurbished park at the foot of King Street "Waterfront Park," even though the council members admitted it's an unimaginative moniker.

The park, previously called Fitzgerald Square, sparked a dispute this year after some residents objected that founding father Col. John Fitzgerald was one of the town's primary owners of slaves.

"His successful businesses were accomplished on the back of enslaved human beings," said council member Timothy Lovain.

Lovain said the park's new name puts the focus on city efforts aimed at "finally restoring the waterfront to its prominent place in our city."

The park is a centerpiece of the city's ongoing redevelopment of Alexandria's riverfront. It will be combined with a park to the south, which already is called Waterfront Park.

Trump makes surprise cemetery visit

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump made an unscheduled visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday.

The president spent 15 minutes at the storied Virginia cemetery, walking with two military officers dressed in camouflage and a tour guide, looking at the thousands of grave markers that had been decorated with holiday wreaths. The visit was not on Trump's public schedule.

"They're doing a great job," Trump said, before saying that he wanted to expand the cemetery so more service members could be buried in the hallowed grounds. He said little else publicly, appearing to intently listen to his tour guide.

He visited on Wreaths Across America Day, where thousands of volunteers in the United States visit graves at military cemeteries.

The president has been mocked by Democratic opponents, and some Republicans, for skipping a visit to honor Americans killed in battle during his visit to France last month, during the commemoration of the end of World War I. White House aides said it was impossible for the president to visit the cemetery because weather conditions were too bad for his helicopter to fly.

Trump did not visit Arlington on Veterans Day. He later made a public apology, saying he should have gone but was too busy making calls from the White House.

-- Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports

A Section on 12/16/2018

Print Headline: All of town's fire evacuees allowed back California fire evacuation orders lifted Account of migrant girl's death disputed Park honoring slave owner is renamed Trump makes surprise cemetery visit


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