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UPDATE: New Evacuations Ordered, 50 Confirmed Structures Destroyed in Ponderosa Fire

By KRCR News Channel 7
Published On: Aug 30 2012 03:33:04 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 18 2012 02:00:00 AM CDT
Pond plane

Courtesy: Michele Swartout

MANTON, Calif. -

TUESDAY 7:00 PM UPDATE: CAL FIRE has issued a new mandatory evacuation for homes on Canyon View Loop near the Battle Creek Drainage due to increased fire activity.

CAL FIRE confirmed that 50 structures have been destroyed due to the Ponderosa Fire. Officials are not able to confirm the addresses of the structures and are still working to assess the damage.

The fire has burned 21,506 acres and is 40% contained.

As predicted Tuesday, the inversion layer has lifted and Cal Fire has seen increased fire activity in more than one area in the fire. Right now the priority is the portion of the fire burning north of Highway 36 on the southeastern edge of the fire.

Fire engines are working to mop up the portion of the fire lines that are directly south of the Shingletown area to ensure that the lines that are in place hold this afternoon when the winds are predicted to change directions.

The public can stay up to date on the Ponderosa Fire by visiting the CAL FIRE website at www.fire.ca.gov or on twitter @CAL_FIRE.

The Shasta County Sheriff's Office issued a statement Tuesday afternoon, responding to questions about when residents would be allowed into the evacuation area.  The Sheriff's Office statement reads as follows:

"The hard closure of Highway 44 will not be lifted.  At this time it is too early to speculate when the Highway 44 road closure will be lifted.  Law enforcement and fire personnel are evaluating the fire.  We are looking at the weather and safety conditions hour by hour in hopes to allow the residents to return to their homes safely."

"Resources are stretched thin and fire suppression activites are still in effect.  We do not want to lift closures prematurely and open up the area with unsafe conditions.  When it is determined the road opening can be sustained, the residents will be allowed to return to their homes."

Traffic on Highway 36 is intermittently impacted east of Paynes Creek to Ponderosa Way due to fire suppression operations. Please use caution while driving in this area.

Manton School, Black Butte School in Shingletown, and Plum Valley Elementary School in Paynes Creek have been closed until further notice.

CAL FIRE is alerting people in the area of Hwy 36 at Oasis Springs Road to Lassen Lodge on both sides of the Highway which includes Ponderosa Sky Ranch, Canyon View Loop area and Lassen Lodge.

An evacuation warning considers the probability that an area will be affected and prepares people for a possible evacuation order.

Firefighters from across California are arriving in the Northstate to help fight the Ponderosa fire.  Tuesday afternoon 1,886 fire personnel were on scene.

Both Shasta & Tehama Counties have declared a state of emergency.

 Cal-Fire said 3,500 residences, 20 commercial buildings and approximately 300 outbuildings were threatened by the fire.

Expected Containment: Aug. 27

Fire Engines: 223 Fire Crews: 38 Bulldozers: 47

Helicopters: 6 Airtankers: Total Personnel: 1,886

Injuries: 1 Structures Damaged: Structures Destroyed: 7 

Mandatory evacuations are in effect for:

  • South side of Hwy 44 from Viola to Brush Oak and on the north side of Hwy 44 from Viola to Alward.
  • Hazen Road
  • Sunnyview Drive
  • Deer Springs Road
  • Rolling Hills Road
  • Wilson Hill Road at Rock Creek Road
  • Forwards Mill Road and Ponderosa Way
  • Rock Creek Road and all secondary roads off of Rock Creek Road
  • Forward Rd at Graham to the C Line
  • Forward Mill Rd from Rock Creek Rd to Forward Camp Rd
  • Rock Creek Rd from Manton Rd to Long Hay Flat Rd
  • All of Long Hay Flat Rd and Woodcutter Way

Area to the south of Highway 44:

  • Wilson Hill Rd to Viola
  • Plateau Pines Road
  • Sites Road
  • East of the KOA at Airport Parkway
  • Starlight Pines

Area to the north of Highway 44

  • Lake McCumber area
  • Brokeoff Meadows Road

Hard Road closures are in effect for:

  • Hwy 44 to Forest Service Rd N17 (which is located to the east of Viola)
  • Forward Road and Graham Road
  • Wilson Hill Rd South of Hwy 44
  • Forward Mills Road from Rock Creek Road to Camp Forward Road
  • Rock Creek Road to Long Hay Flat Road
  • All of Long Hay Flat and Woodcutter's Way
  • Hwy 44 east from Lake McCumber to Viola

A Red Cross evacuation center is open at Big League Dreams in Redding.

Three schools are closed, Black Butte Elementary School in Shingletown, Manton Elementary and Plum Valley in Paynes Creek.

The American Red Cross has activated a "Safe and Well" website where those affected by the fire can check the status of friends and family at the evacuation centers.

Several organizations have volunteered to shelter evacuated large and small animals:

The blaze was sparked by lighting around 11:00 a.m. Saturday and started on Forward Road burning toward Digger Butte, just 2 miles south of Shasta County.

At first light Tuesday, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) crews began replacing burned poles and restringing power lines destroyed in the Ponderosa Fire in areas where access is allowed. About 20 poles are being replaced today near Forward Road in Manton, and near Mineral crews are working to replace six poles. Two of the six poles may need to be helicoptered in due to a fire damaged bridge crossing the South Fork of Battle Creek. Heavy smoke is delaying helicopter operations.

Due to ongoing fire activity and firefighting in the area, power lines will remain de-energized until it is safe for PG&E to repower. About 900 customers in Mineral, Paynes Creek and Manton remain without power since Saturday when PG&E de-energized lines for firefighter safety. More than 70 poles were burned, but more damage is likely in areas where PG&E has not yet been allowed in.

PG&E expects nearly full restoration by Friday, but will restore power as work progresses and it is safe.

Contract tree crews are working ahead of linemen to fell damaged trees posing a hazard to workers and power lines. PG&E crews from the Sacramento area are assisting local teams, with more crews arriving early Wednesday from PG&E’s Humboldt region.

Check back with KRCR for further updates.