After California’s largest wildfire destroyed the town of Paradise, the city reportedly found that much of its water is now contaminated with a cancer-linked compound. According to The Sacramento Bee, officials said the Camp Fire caused a “toxic cocktail” of gases in burning homes that eventually got into the town’s water pipes. Benzene—a compound linked to leukemia, anemia, vomiting, and irritation—can be formed by “high-intensity burning” and was found in 30 percent of water samples taken in the town. “It is jaw dropping,” said Dan Newton of California’s Water Resources Control Board. “This is such a huge scale. None of us were prepared for this.” Cleaning Paradise’s pipes is possible, but it would reportedly take two years and up to $300 million for get the tap water to safe drinking levels. In the meantime, the estimated 1,500 residents who moved back have been told not to drink, cook, or bathe in the water. Some residents told the newspaper they have been relying on water bottles, water deliveries, and rain water to access uncontaminated water.
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