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Judge Gives Gas Leak Evacuees Longer To Return

David McNew / AFP/Getty Images

A neighborhood where many people left their homes because of a massive natural-gas leak is seen in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles in December.

David McNew / AFP/Getty Images

(AP) - A judge has ordered a gas company to continue paying to house Los Angeles residents displaced by the largest known methane leak in U.S. history.

A spokesman for a Los Angeles county supervisor said a Superior Court judge issued an order Thursday that requires the Southern California Gas Co. to pay for short-term housing until March 18.

The gas company had agreed under a court settlement to pay until Thursday for residents staying in hotels and with family and friends.

Lawyers for the county argued that although the leaking well has been capped, more time is needed to test that the air is safe in the San Fernando Valley.

The 16-week leak sickened residents and uprooted 6,400 families. Some who have returned home have complained of ongoing symptoms.