Arrest made after Northern California wildfire sparks evacuations near Camp Fire burn scar

Authorities have made an arrest after a wildfire was touched off Wednesday evening in a rugged part of Butte County spared from Camp Fire more than five years ago.

Firefighters made quick work of the Ranch Fire, a 10-acre blaze that sparked just before 6:30 p.m. on Big Bend Road and Newsome Ranch Road near Yankee Hill, said the Butte County Fire Department, a unit of Cal Fire known as BTU.

In a brief statement, Cal Fire said that one person was arrested on suspicion of starting the Ranch Fire, but no other details were immediately available. Officials noted that the blaze was 21 separate fires but all threats were “mitigated.”

The Butte County Sheriff’s Office had briefly issued evacuation orders for several homes near the blaze, which was detected as heavy timber smoke across several hot spots around 6:22 p.m. Cal Fire responded with three fire crews and an air tanker drop, stopping forward progress on the flames around 8:30 p.m. Evacuations were lessened and roads reopened to residents overnight.

On Thursday morning, crews said the fire was 50% contained as personnel were “constructing control lines, mopping up and patrolling” in a “remote location with difficult access.” “Numerous firefighting air tankers from throughout the state are flying fire suppression missions as conditions allow,” Cal Fire said.

The burn area was one of the few areas of Big Bend southeast of Paradise and Concow that was spared in the Camp Fire, the 2018 inferno that killed 85 people, burned over 150,000 acres and destroyed nearly 19,000 buildings. The Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in state history, was sparked by faulty PG&E transmission equipment.

The Ranch Fire was also several yards west of the outer limit of the Claremont Fire, which charred nearly 300,000 acres in 2020.

“Currently have 75 personnel working on the fire today,” Cal Fire said in its update. “We will remain at scene until 100% containment is achieved.”