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Firefighters close in on remainder of Route fire in Castaic, 87% contained

Helicopters pick up water at the Castaic Lake State Recreation Area
Helicopters pick up water at the Castaic Lake State Recreation Area as the Route fire burns amid a searing triple-digit heat wave.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)
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Firefighters were close to finishing off the remainder of the Route fire near Castaic on Saturday, which over the past few days charred more than 5,200 acres, temporarily shut down all lanes of the 5 Freeway and prompted evacuations.

The fire was 87% contained as of 7 p.m. Saturday, the Los Angeles County Fire Department reported on its Twitter page. Crews are mopping up hot spots, with full containment expected by Wednesday.

The Route fire, which was first reported just after noon Wednesday along the 5 Freeway near Lake Hughes Road, grew quickly to 5,100 acres by Thursday, prompting mandatory evacuations and destroying two structures.

About 250 county firefighters were assigned to the blaze along with 115 U.S. Forest Service firefighters, eight air tankers and seven helicopters, said L.A. County Fire Inspector Craig Little.

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Two people suffered burns and were taken to hospitals. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection San Diego Capt. Thomas Shoots said there were “multiple close calls” as residents rushed to evacuate their homes.

The intense blaze spurred evacuations as crews contended with hot, dry and windy conditions on the first day of what’s expected to be a brutal weeklong heat wave.

All evacuation orders were lifted Thursday afternoon, but the two right lanes of northbound Interstate 5 will be closed through the Labor Day weekend so crews can make emergency repairs to the roadway that was damaged in the fire, officials said.

The lanes will be closed between Lake Hughes Road and Templin Highway while the two left lanes remain open. Southbound I-5 lanes have reopened.

Crews will clean drainage systems, replace signs, repair burned guardrail and assess damaged retaining walls, the state Department of Transportation said.

Times staff writer David Zahniser contributed to this story.

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