30-year-old John Ballenger of Oroville plead no contest Wednesday, in Butte County court room, to arson and an enhancement that his reckless arson burned multiple structures.
Ballenger was accused of illegally camping next to the Sucker Run creek near the Ponderosa Dam. He had been camping in the area for about a month and had an illegal campfire which he reportedly never put out. Ballenger reportedly left the fire burning while he went for a walk. Authorities say the hot embers escaped and started the Ponderosa Fire which burned over 4 thousand acres and destroyed 55 structures including houses.
According to a Butte County District Attorney's Office press release, Ballenger faces 14 year in state prison.