With 10 homes destroyed, five damaged and 500 remaining threatened, Cal Fire announced the arrest of 29-year-old John Ballenger of Oroville in connection with the outbreak of what’s being called the Ponderosa fire.
Authorities say Ballenger allegedly started an illegal campfire and let it get out of control.
First reported less than 24 hours ago, the blaze is now 2,500 acres and zero percent contained.
“The fire is in an area where it is very difficult to get to, just due to the lack of roads, for example,” Cal Fire Deputy Chief Scott McLane said. “The terrain is very steep and unmanageable, so a lot of dozer work, a lot of hand crew work, to get those engine crews in as well, a lot of aircraft is flying over this incident as we speak, so all in all it’s a hot, dry day and we’re dealing with it accordingly.”
He said heavy smoke hampered early morning efforts by aircraft. Spotters couldn’t tell exactly where the flames were or their extent. Challenging weather and shifting atmospheric conditions are presenting additional difficulties.
“Today is supposed to be the coolest day, and that’s between 100 and 105,” McLane said. “We’re dealing with up-canyon winds as we speak. The reason for that is that as your air gets warmer it gets lighter, so it goes up, it follows those draws and ravines up through the canyons and pushing the fire towards the east. At night time, when the air gets a little cooler, it gets heavier and it comes back down to the west, so the fire is constantly changing direction as well. Predominantly it is moving in a northerly direction.”