'Toxic cocktail' poisoning water in fire-ravaged Paradise

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PARADISE, Calif. (AP) — Water officials say the drinking water in Paradise, California, which was decimated by a wildfire last year, is contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical benzene.

Fixing the problem could cost $300 million and take up to two years.

The Sacramento Bee reports Thursday that experts believe the extreme heat of the November firestorm created a "toxic cocktail" of gases in burning homes that was sucked into water pipes when the system depressurized from use by residents and firefighters.

About 1,500 of the town's 27,000 residents are living in the few surviving houses.

Water officials have warned them not to drink, cook, bathe in or brush their teeth with tap water and to only take quick showers with warm water. They are giving cases of free bottled water to residents daily.

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