Ponderosa Fire in Butte impacts Plumas

County Sheriff's Office

An evacuation center at the Church of Nazarene in Oroville had 15 evacuees Wednesday morning, with the capacity to provide 100 beds if needed, said Lori Nichols, a volunteer with the American Red Cross from Elk Grove.

Firefighters are battling a brush fire just north of Los Angeles that has shut down both sides of a key freeway for holiday weekend travel.

The fire sparked Tuesday afternoon as a heatwave blankets much of California.

Huge flames are burning on hilltops and smoke is visible for miles around.

Cal Fire law enforcement officers arrested John Ballenger, 29, of Oroville, on Tuesday.

The fire has burned in priority habitat for greater sage-grouse.

Seven ranches and a geothermal plant remain threatened.

Ponderosa fire
The fire can be seem from above Lake Oroville

Governor Brown said he issued the emergency proclamation for Butte County due to the effects of the Ponderosa Fire which has burned thousands of acres, damaged critical infrastructure, destroyed homes and caused the evacuation of residents.

The world's newest and largest aerial firefighting tanker, that is housed in Colorado Springs, went into action Wednesday night.

The SuperTanker is battling the Ponderosa Fire, 10 miles east of Lake Oroville in California. It was 40 percent contained on Friday, up from 30 percent the day before.

"All campfires pose a risk of escaping", said Chief Darren Read of Cal Fire-Butte County in a press release.

Ten homes have been destroyed and 500 more are threatened near the Northern California town of Oroville. Firefighters have had to bulldoze their own way to get to the tough-to-access blaze, and teams hiked in to cut fire lines in an attempt to contain the fire.

But officials say the fire's location in steep and rugged terrain plus hot and dry temperatures are complicating firefighters' efforts.

Wildfires in the U.S. West have burned more than 7.1 million acres (2.9 million hectares) since the beginning of the year, about 50 percent more than during the same time period in 2016, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

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