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Ponderosa fire prompts evacuations and emergency order

August 19, 2012 |  3:52 pm

A 12,000-acre wildfire southeast of Redding has spurred Shasta County officials to declare a state of emergency and prompted an evacuation order for an estimated 2,000 residents, officials said Sunday.

The Ponderosa fire has destroyed seven homes and threatens 3,000 residences, said Cal Fire spokeswoman Mary Ann Aldrich. Nearly 1,000 firefighters have yet to make a dent in containing the fire, she said.

The fire began in Tehama County about 11:30 a.m. Saturday and spread into Shasta County, Aldrich said. It was less than a mile from Highway 44 on Sunday afternoon, spreading north-northeast toward the communities of Shingletown and Viola. Fire crews have sent three water-dropping helicopters to the blaze.

The Red Cross has opened an evacuation center in Redding. Public safety agencies have closed Highway 44 from Viola to Brush Oak. Because of that closure, Highway 299 has been recommended as an alternate route.

Manton Road and all roads leading in and out of Manton also have been shut down.

The cause of the blaze is still unknown.

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-- David Zahniser

twitter.com/davidzahniser

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