Oroville man arraigned on charges he started Ponderosa Fire

- Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency Friday for Butte County amid a wildfire that has destroyed 20 homes, scorched almost 6 square miles and forced residents to evacuate.

Oroville A fire notification center has opened for residents impacted by the Ponderosa Fire.

The Ponderosa Fire in Butte County is threatening 1,300 strucutres, including 500 homes.

More than 400 miles (644 km) to the north, the so-called Ponderosa Fire has burned 3,880 acres, or about 1,570 hectares, and destroyed 32 homes in Butte County since it broke out on Tuesday.

Plus, they said due to an interagency agreement between Cal Fire and the federal government, the plane could be used to help battle wildfires in places like Yosemite National Park.

The fire was only 10 percent contained with more than 500 firefighters battling it. Ballenger could face up to seven years and eight months in prison if convicted.

Adding to what's predicted to be a record-setting day of heat Friday, smoke from several wildfires burning north of the Bay Area has now migrated southward and settled in over parts of the East Bay and Marin, creating a noticeable haze. The public defender's office could not be reached for comment.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said Friday prosecutors believe Ballenger had been maintaining for days a campfire along a creek known as Sucker Run near the dam at Ponderosa Reservoir.

Cal Fire law enforcement officers have arrested John Ballenger, 29, of Oroville, on suspicion of starting the fire.

The La Tuna Canyon fire over Burbank, California, September 2, 2017.

It was not immediately clear how many homes could be threatened by the wildfire.

Officials also ordered the evacuation of Sugar Pine, a small community of homes and vacation rentals threatened by the nearby flames.

Nevada National Security Site spokeswoman Tracy Bower said the lightning-sparked fire covered nearly 4 square miles (10 square kilometers), but it wasn't considered a threat to people or buildings.

  • Eleanor Harrison