Fire North Of Redding, California Contained After Evacuations

REDDING, Calif. (AP) -- Residents were evacuated from a subdivision five miles north of Redding Tuesday before firefighters controlled a blaze that charred vegetation to the edge of Interstate 5.

The fire began about 12:15 p.m. in the Tierra Oaks Subdivision, a golf course community, forcing residents on a half-dozen streets to flee their homes.

The fire downed several power lines and forced the temporary closure of an exit to Shasta Dam Blvd., backing up traffic on California's major north-south highway. No homes were lost.

The wildfire came as federal officials announced the continued cleanup from the Bear Fire, which began Aug. 11 also south of Shasta Lake and spread to more than 10,000 acres. That fire destroyed 80 homes, 30 outbuildings and 10 vehicles before it was contained five days later.

A survey last week found several surviving homes are now threatened by the danger of erosion and mudslides. Burned hillsides are highly susceptible to erosion, prompting the U.S. Agriculture Department's Natural Resources Conservation Service to launch an emergency watershed protection program.

The project, projected to cost more than $205,000, includes replanting hillsides, installing drainpipes and sandbags to direct water away from homes, and protecting drainage culverts so they don't become clogged with trash.

The federal government pays 75 percent of the cost; Shasta County's Department of Public Works the other 25 percent. The project should be completed next month, before the onset of winter rains, officials said.

The extraordinarily dry fire conditions prompted the federal Bureau of Land Management's Folsom office to impose additional fire restrictions on 230,000 acres it manages in Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mariposa, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Tuolumne and Yuba counties.

``Fuel moisture levels are lower than I've ever seen them at this time of year,'' BLM Fire Management Officer Ken Hood said in announcing the ban on all open campfires _ even in designated campgrounds. Only portable stoves are permitted. The use of pumps, chain saws, brush cutters and other engines is now allowed only from 5-11 a.m.

Meanwhile, the hot, dry weather prompted the federal Small Business Administration to announce disaster loans are available for small, non-farm businesses in Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Lake, Sutter and Yolo counties because of unusually high March temperatures.

Loans also are available in Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, Mono and Tuolumne counties because of drought dating to October 2003 and high March temperatures.