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Massive Ponderosa fire destroys 50 structures; 40% contained

August 21, 2012 |  9:50 pm

Ponderosa fire
The massive Ponderosa fire in Northern California has destroyed 50 structures as a virtual army of firefighters beat back flames that were raging across a mix of grass, brush and heavy timber, officials said Tuesday night.

The blaze had burned 21,506 acres and was 40% contained, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. The flames, which had burned across more than 33 square miles, were threatening hundreds of other structures.

Evacuations had been ordered at a number of locations in Manton, Shingletown and Viola, officials said.

Evacuation warnings had been issued for California 36 from Ponderosa Sky Ranch to Lassen Lodge communities. The highway was closed from Dale's Station/Manton Road to Lassen Lodge, according to fire officials.

More than 2,100 firefighters, aided by 11 helicopters, were battling the blaze, which broke out Saturday morning southeast of Manton and was burning in Tehama and Shasta counties.  

On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown said that National Guard units would be dispatched to help firefighters. His announcement came after the federal Emergency Management Agency said it would provide federal funds to help offset the costs of battling the fast-moving fire.

Fire officials said Tuesday that crews on the ground were focusing on defending structures and cutting containment lines with hand crews and bulldozers.

The blaze was apparently sparked by lightning, officials said. Two injuries had been reported.


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Photo: Flames and smoke from the Ponderosa fire on Monday near Paynes Creek. Credit: Andrea Fuhrmann /The Redding Record-Searchlight.