Full containment of Ponderosa fire expected Monday
The Ponderosa fire has consumed more than 28,000 acres in Tehama and Shasta counties since it was sparked by lightning Saturday. It has destroyed 64 homes, mostly around the small community of Manton.
"They're making progress every hour and we're fairly confident that we've got the forward movement stopped," said Mary Ann Aldrich, spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Aldrich said full containment was expected by Monday.
"We've utilized hand crews, bulldozers and aircraft and engine crews. Being able to have the combination of those resources has really contributed to the success," she said.
But by Thursday, the tide had turned and Cal Fire officials began to lift evacuation orders, allowing residents to reenter most areas on the perimeter of the Ponderosa.
Sacramento resident Pauline Dow was relieved to find her family cabin, encircled by scorched earth and blackened trees, safe in its green oasis adjacent to the aptly named Battle Creek. She watched as a helicopter dropped loads of water on one of the fire's last live areas just in front of her property.
She said she was grateful for the state prison fire camp workers — more than 550 inmates — who did most of the labor cutting fire lines, working 24-hour shifts with shovels and axes in terrain too rough for bulldozers and fire hoses to reach.
"Thank you, I love you!" she shouted.
-- Paige St. John in Red Bluff and Rebecca Trounson in Los Angeles
Photo: Firefighters watch a tanker make a drop Thursday on the Ponderosa fire. Credit: Andreas Fuhrmann / Record Searchlight.