A stretch of a major interstate near the California-Oregon border will remain closed through the weekend as crews try to tame the Delta Fire roaring along the roadway, forcing truckers and other motorists to take lengthy detours, officials said Friday.
Much of the effort has also focused on protecting scattered homes and small communities in the sparsely populated fire zone, but an unspecified number of homes have been destroyed, he said.
A shocking video shows the moment a terrified woman begged her boyfriend to abandon their big-rig after an explosive wildfire trapped dozens of drivers along a California freeway Wednesday afternoon. Parked trucks lined more than two miles of Interstate 5 as both directions remained closed to traffic. Evacuations have been issued for everything north of Vollmers/Delta to the Siskiyou County line.
Flames posed an immediate threat to roughly 150 homes and other buildings in the sparsely populated region, with about 300 people under mandatory evacuation orders, Vaccaro said.
BREAKING: The #DeltaFire has forced the closure of I-5.
The Mendocino Complex fire burned over 459,000 acres and is the largest wildfire in the modern California history.
The blaze was human-caused, officials said, without indicating whether it was arson or an accident.
Before the highway is reopened, authorities have to check the safety of the pavement and cut down burned trees next to the road - some of them 70 feet (20 meters) tall - that might be in danger of falling down. "Whatever occurred here was probably pretty ugly for a while".
The two fires Thursday were raging just weeks after a blaze in the Redding area killed eight people and burned some 1,100 homes in a frightening start to the fire season.
Caltrans said I-5 north of Lakehead remains closed and there is no estimated time of reopening at this time.
Flames from a backfire burn around a fire truck battling the Delta Fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Calif., on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018.
"They had a lot of ground troops- they just didn't have many people to manage them, so our people were in charge of crews", he said.
Although the fire wasn't burning near any large towns, fire spokesman Brandon Vacarro said about 280 homes were considered threatened. Farther north, an evacuation warning was in effect for the picturesque town of Dunsmuir, advising some 1,600 residents to be ready to flee at a moment's notice.
Most are either fully contained or close to containment.