I-5 remains closed as Delta fire continues to grow in Northern California
The massive Delta fire that forced the shutdown of a stretch of Interstate 5 in Northern California last week continues to grow, and the major north-south artery is expected to remain closed indefinitely, authorities said.
As of Sunday morning, the fire had burned 40, 903 acres, increasing by an additional 4,000 acres overnight, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office has issued mandatory evacuations for residents along the Interstate 5 corridor north of Redding.
“Each day fires resurface along the interstate making it unsafe for vehicular travel which necessitates its continued closure,” the agency said in a statement.
The northbound portion of the highway remains closed at Riverview Drive and the southbound lanes at Flume Creek Road. Only emergency vehicles, utility company staff repairing critical infrastructure, and timber land employees assisting with fire mitigation efforts are allowed through.
More than 2,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, according to Cal Fire officials.
Two single-family residences have been destroyed by the fire, as well as two combination residential and commercial buildings, Capt. Brandon Vaccaro, a media spokesman for Cal Fire, said Saturday. Mandatory evacuations were issued in Shasta County and Trinity County, and evacuation warnings have been given to the community of Dunsmuir.
Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol and other management organizations have been meeting daily to determine when it will be safe to open the freeway, Vaccaro said.
“Opening the freeway is our top priority, but it needs to be safe to do so,” he said.
The Delta fire started Sept. 5 about 1 pm. Investigators are still not certain what sparked it, but they say it was definitely human caused.
From the very start, the fire’s behavior has been extreme. Motorists trapped on the freeway described towering flames up to 300 feet high.
So far, there have been no fatalities.
Weather conditions appeared to be more favorable to firefighters on Saturday than before, Vaccaro said.
Daytime temperatures were lower and the humidity was a bit higher. Vaccaro said the humidity overnight was expected to be high enough to form dew. That could result in less extreme fire behavior and allow fire crews to make more headway, he said.
Wildfires burn Friday on the ridgeline east of I-5 just south of the Gibson Road exit near Shasta-Trinity National Forest.(Hung T. Vu / AP)
Crews from Yocha Dehe Fire Department work Friday to put out a grass fire along I-5 at Earl Sholes Memorial Bridge near Shasta-Trinity National Forest.(Hung T. Vu / AP)
Firefighter Tyler Benson throws a flare to start a back fire as the the Delta fire burns along Pollard Camp Road north of Redding.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters monitor the Delta Fire along Interstate 5 north of Redding, Calif.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters struggle to contain backfire in the Pollard Flat area of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.(Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images)
Old vintage trucks burned from the Delta Fire along Salt Creek Road north of Redding, Calif.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Interstate 5 is empty in Lamoine because of the Delta fire, which has burned more than 22,000 acres in Northern California.(Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images)
A statue remains at a home destroyed by the Delta fire in Lamoine.(Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images)
A burned bicycle is seen among the ruins of a smoldering home destroyed by the Delta fire in Lamoine.(Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images)
Embers fly above a firefighter as he hustles to control a backfire as the Delta fire burns in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.(Noah Berger / Associated Press)
Flames from a backfire surround a fire truck in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest on Thursday.(Noah Berger / AP)
A firefighter passes a backfire Thursday in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.(Noah Berger / AP)
Crews monitor a backfire Thursday while battling the Delta Fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.(Noah Berger / AP)
A scorched VW Beetle rests in a clearing after the Delta Fire burned through the Lamoine community in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Calif.(Noah Berger / Associated Press)
A home leveled by the Delta Fire rests in a clearing in Pollard Flat area of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.(Noah Berger / AP)
California Highway Patrol Capt. Mark Loveless examines a truck scorched by the Delta fire burning along Interstate 5 in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.(Noah Berger / Associated Press)
A crane lifts a truck scorched by the Delta fire on Interstate 5 in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The highway remains closed to traffic in both directions as crews battle the blaze.(Noah Berger / Associated Press)
A scorched truck rests on Interstate 5 as the Delta Fire burns in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.(Noah Berger / Associated Press)
An abandoned smoldering truck rests along Interstate 5 after the Delta fire tore through the region and jumped the road in Delta.(Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighter sprays down a burned big rig that was abandoned along Interstate 5 as the Delta fire tore through the region.(Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images)
Firetrucks pass the Delta fire burning in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.(Noah Berger / Associated Press)
Fire surrounds an intersection during the Delta fire.(Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images)
Light from a train is seen as it rounds a bend near the Sacramento River as flames from the Delta fire fill a valley in Delta.(Josh Edelson / AFP/Getty Images)
10 a.m.: This article was updated with new information from Cal Fire.
This article was originally post at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8
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