By Mary Slosson
SACRAMENTO, Calif. Aug 21 Fifty buildings were
destroyed by a 21,500-acre wildfire raging in Northern
California that has forced the evacuation of about 3,000 people
near the small town of Manton, fire officials said late on
Dubbed the Ponderosa Fire, the lightning-sparked blaze
roared through brush and heavy timber in Tehama and Shasta
counties, about 125 miles (200 km) north of the state capital
Sacramento, since it started on Saturday.
Firefighters were finally able to survey the damage from the
air in one of the more heavily populated areas affected, to the
southeast of tiny Manton, on Tuesday.
The structures destroyed include not only residential houses
but also barns and sheds, but firefighters were not expected to
inspect the damage up close and on foot until Wednesday, Chico
Fire Division Chief Shane Lauderdale told Reuters.
"There is a good chance that number (of destroyed buildings)
will go up, because they haven't been able to get into the whole
area affected by the fire," Mike Witesman, a spokesman for the
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said.
More than 2,000 fire personnel successfully fought strong
winds all day Tuesday to save the neighboring small town of
Shingletown from burning, Lauderdale said.
However, more than 200 residences remain threatened by the
blaze burning over steep and rugged rural terrain.
Two firefighters have suffered minor injuries while fighting
the blaze, which officials said has been 40 percent contained.
The Northern California fire is among nearly three dozen
large conflagrations burning out of control through the
drought-stricken Western states, devouring well over 1 million
acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in
(Reporting by Mary Slosson; Editing by Bill Trott, Lisa
Shumaker and Pravin Char)