Out-Of-Control NorCal Wildfire Shuts Down 5 Freeway Through Weekend


A blaze that shut down a major highway and is burning out of control through timber and brush in northern California grew overnight.

In northern Shasta County, above Shasta Lake, the Hirz Fire has burned through 46,150 acres and reached 75 percent containment as of Saturday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

It has destroyed thousands of trees - some 70 feet (20 meters) tall - that could fall onto the roadway, she said.

Truckers abandoned big-rigs and motorists screamed in fear as they came dangerously close to an explosive wildfire that shut down about 45 miles of a major California interstate near the OR border that authorities were desperately trying to reopen.

Interstate 5 was closed to traffic in both directions as crews battle the Shasta-Trinity blaze.

Meanwhile, truckers who rely heavily on the I-5 to transport timber and other goods along the West Coast had the unenviable choice of waiting or taking a jammed detour that added 115 miles (185 kilometers) or so to their journeys.

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.

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It was largest fire in California state history, burning more than 459,100 acres.

The fire that started in north of Redding is forcing evacuations beyond Shasta County, in Trinity and Siskiyou counties, too. The state's fire agency says it's nearly out money, having spent $432 million to fight fires through August and the "official" fire season has only just begun.

Caltrans said Friday they expect Interstate 5 will remain closed until Sunday, when they will re-assess the situation. "Whatever occurred here was probably pretty ugly for a while".

TRINITY COUNTY, Calif. - In the latest update from the State-Trinity National Forest Service as of 10 a.m. on September 6, Northbound Interstate 5 is closed at the Fawndale exit approximately 10 miles north of Redding.

A previous fire this year near Redding and another in the Mendocino area - the two largest blazes in the state this year - destroyed or damaged 8,800 homes and 329 businesses.

"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. 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. It was only fully contained last week.