Marin Strike Team Fighting Flames at Ponderosa Fire

Team of 14 arrived Sunday morning and is serving on the front lines, trying to save homes.

A strike team from Marin County is on the front line protecting homes at the Ponderosa fire, which is raging east of Redding.

Novato Deputy Fire Chief Eric Nickel said a 14-person team led by Novato Division Chief Mark Heine is battling flames in a residential area of Shingletown, about 30 miles east of Redding and about 215 miles north of the Marin County border. The crew is comprised of firefighters from Mill Valley Fire, San Rafael Fire, Ross Valley Fire and Marin County Fire, Nickel said.

The strike team, also led by Mill Valley Fire Battalion Chief Mike St. John, departed Marin early Sunday morning and was immediately dispatched to the front line right after having some breakfast.

"Chief Heine said the smoke hangs low in the morning and then as the day warms up it prompts aggressive fire behavior," Nickel said. "He said the fire was just roaring through their area ... and they had to back out and redeploy. It's giving fire crews from really challenging times."

The latest report from the Redding Record-Searchlight newspaper said more than 16,000 acres have burned and more than 2,000 residents have been evacuated, although Cal Fire said the acreage is more than 19,000 now. The paper said least 1,409 firefighters — 435 more than Sunday — were trying to get control of the south-moving wildfire. It was 30 percent contained Monday and threatened 3,500 homes.

Two other battlion chiefs from Novato, Mike Hughes and Chris Wikeen, are helping a federal firefighting team battle a different blaze in the Shasta National Forest, Nickel said.


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