Fire Update: Ponderosa Fire Grows to 16,000 Acres

MANTON, Calif. (AP) – A huge wildfire sparked by lightning has burned to the edge of three small Northern California towns, threatening thousands of homes as fearful residents sought safety miles away at an emergency shelter. More than 1,800 firefighters were battling the Ponderosa Fire in rugged, densely forested terrain in Tehama and Shasta counties as it threatened 3,500 homes in the towns of Manton, Shingletown and Viola. Fire evacuee Bill Maloy says he just wants to get back to a normal life.  The fire has destroyed seven homes while blackening 23 square miles. It was 30 percent contained as of Monday night. The fire forced the closure of Highway 44 and other roads, with Cal-Fire also issuing evacuation warnings in the area of Highway 36 at Oasis Springs Road to Lassen Lodge.

Meanwhile, Cal-Fire pushing back expected containment of the Mill Fire near Butte Meadows for a few days. Cal-Fire says the blaze could be contained Thursday. So far its burned more than 1600 acres. Captain Scott McLean says weather conditions have been problematic. As of Monday night, the Mill Fire was 55 percent contained.

And the Chips Fire burning in the Plumas and Lassen National Forests has grown to nearly 51 thousand acres. Containment of that blaze is at 37 percent. The US Forest Service says it saw decreased fire activity Monday because smoke from a neighboring blaze prevented the fire from heating up during the afternoon.

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