Firefighters continued to battle fires in Butte and Nevada counties on Thursday, as smoke from wildfires in Northern California and southern Oregon was carried into the Sacramento area.
The Ponderosa Fire in Butte County was reported 30 percent contained, burning across 3,570 acres on Thursday evening, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The Pleasant Fire, burning off Highway 49 and Pleasant Valley, south of North San Juan, was reported 40 percent contained, with 280 acres burned, shortly before 5 p.m. Thursday.
The Ponderosa Fire started early Tuesday afternoon at Ponderosa Way and Lumpkin Road, east of Lake Oroville. As of Thursday evening, it had burned 20 homes and seven outbuildings, said Paul Lowenthal, a Cal Fire spokesman.
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Firefighters Thursday didn’t see the explosive growth in the fire that occurred the first day, but they continued to battle spot fires on the southern edge.
Thursday brought excessive heat and red flag warnings. Lowenthal said higher than usual nighttime temperatures and low humidity mean firefighters don’t see the typical overnight decline in fire activity. Those conditions are expected to continue at least through Friday.
All evacuations remained in place. Residents began evacuating neighborhoods Tuesday afternoon and continued to do so Wednesday. Though mandatory evacuation orders were imposed, many Lumpkin Road residents elected to shelter in place.
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.
Besides the Oroville church shelter, an American Red Cross shelter has been set up at the Ponderosa Community Center, 17103 Ponderosa Way, in Brownsville.
A shelter for small animals is available at the old county hospital, 2279 Del Oro Road in Oroville. Large animals may be taken to the Camelot Equestrian Park, 1985 Clark Road in Oroville.
Evacuations also remained Thursday in Nevada County, where the Pleasant Fire was burning in heavy brush and timber, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection..
The fire was reported at 3:38 p.m. Wednesday. Highway 49 was closed north of Pleasant Valley Road due to fire on both sides of the road.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
According to Cal Fire, mandatory evacuations are in place for Robinson Road, Brotherhood Way, Tobacco Road, New School Road and east to Maidu Ridge Road as well as all roads between Highway 49 and Oak Tree Road north of Tyler Foote Road.
An evacuation center has been opened at First Baptist Church at 1866 Ridge Road in Grass Valley.
Smoke from these fires and other Northern California wildfires, as well as those in southern Oregon, is being transported to the Sacramento Valley and is expected to affect the area throughout the weekend, according to the Sacramento Air Quality Management District.
Air quality in areas including Elk Grove, Woodland and Auburn was classified Thursday as unhealthy for people with lung diseases such as asthma. People are advised to limit outdoor activities if they see or smell smoke.