Firefighters in California have been making progress during this historically busy fire season, especially around the Sierra Nevada town of Paradise. Thousands of people evacuated from their homes twice during the last month have been able to return to Paradise for the first time since Tuesday. A few hundred homes remain threatened, down from a few thousand a few days ago. Officials say the fire is 55 percent contained. Elsewhere in the state, the fire near Big Sur is about 61 percent contained. Officials plan to reopen coastal Highway 1 today, three weeks after it was closed by the massive blaze. More help may be on the way from heavy rain expected in parts of California. But it could create fresh worries for residents, especially in fire-scarred parts of the state. Flash flood watches have been issued in southern and central California, including many areas that are ripe for mudslides.