Hundreds of motorists were trapped on Interstate 5 as a fast-moving fire burned near the freeway.
A wildfire in North California closed dozens of miles of the I-5 after erupting on Wednesday afternoon. Within hours, the blaze rampaged through nearly 8 square miles of vegetation on both sides of the Interstate 5, near the Oregon state line.
Truckers and other drivers abandoned their vehicles as the wildfire roared up the sides of the hills and made trees burst into flames.
According to Lieutenant Commander Kyle Foster of the California Highway Patrol’s Mt. Shasta office, around 17 semi-trailers were abandoned and at least four caught fire.
Foster also said that truckers and other drivers along with firefighters helped other motorists to safety. The U.S. Forest Service was also documented to have extracted a truck driver from a flaming truck.
EMERGENCY CLOSURE: Due to wildfire activity, Northbound I-5 is currently closed at Fawndale Road, north of Redding. Southbound I-5 is currently closed at Mott Road, north of Dunsmuir. No current ETO. Motorists should choose an alternate route.
— Caltrans District 2 (@CaltransD2) September 5, 2018
Brandon Vaccaro of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said, “There’s vehicles scattered all over,” in an interview for the Redding Record Searchlight.
Named “Delta Fire”, flames have so far not reached large towns yet but are threatening several campgrounds and cabins in the area.
Chris Losi, a spokesman for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, said that around 45 miles of the I-5 highway were closed in both directions.
Residents of the scattered structures and residences in and around the forest have been ordered to evacuate, Losi also said, from the community Lakehead north to the Siskiyou County line.
Around 1,500 residents of the city of Dunsmuir, just 15 miles from the fire, were also issued an evacuation warning. Locals were urged to prepare to leave as soon as the fire threatened the city.
The Redding area was scorched by the Carr Fire just last month, leaving eight people dead and more than a thousand homes burned to the ground.
Wildfires spread fast and can quickly become deadly. If you’re in an area that’s prone to wildfires, keep important tools and items within reach and learn how to keep safe and navigate yourself out of one.