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Court: Utility Must House Gas Leak Refugees Until March 18

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 California court has rejected a utility's efforts to stop paying to house Los Angeles residents displaced by a massive gas leak.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal denied a petition Wednesday by Southern California Gas Co. to reconsider a judge's order that required the company to pay for room and board until March 18.

The order came last week on the day the company was due to cease reimbursing residents staying with family, friends and at hotels.

The gas company says it appealed because public health officials have determined it's safe for residents to return to homes near its Aliso Canyon facility.

Thousands of residents moved out of the Porter Ranch area during the 16-week leak, and many complained of nausea, headaches, nosebleeds and other symptoms.