The so-called Ponderosa Fire has burned 3,715 acres and destroyed 30 homes in Butte County, prompting authorities to issue evacuation orders to residents of some 500 homes in the area, officials said.
Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said Friday prosecutors believe Ballenger had been maintaining for days a campfire along a creek known as Sucker Run near the dam at Ponderosa Reservoir. Ballenger is being held on a $1 million bail. The fire is projected to have full containment September 6. Ballenger could face up to seven years and eight months in prison, Ramsey said.
The wildfire is burning in the sparsely populated area east of Lake Oroville, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of Sacramento. The public defender's office could not be reached for comment.
"The fire has been pushing north onto Middle Fork Feather River", Butte County sheriff's Sgt. Steve Collins said, adding that officials are anxious the fire will spread into areas with more homes.
The Global SuperTanker is now helping to fight a fire in Northern California.
Wildfires in OR and Montana also have prompted evacuations.
While this is the first time the Global SuperTanker has been deployed in the USA, it was previously called upon to combat fires in Israel over Thanksgiving of 2016, and was in Chile for three weeks in January and February of 2017.
In Montana, Governor Steve Bullock on Friday declared a state of disaster due to wildfires as dozens raged across tens of thousands of acres during one of the worst fire seasons in state history.
Residents who want to verify if their home has been loss and receive information regarding local resources to help with recovery can go to the center at 202 Mira Loma Drive in Oroville, at the Department of Employment and Social Services/Public Health Administration Building.