Delta Fire Leaves Truckers Stranded After Interstate 5 Closure

Fast-moving fire erupts north of Redding shutting down Interstate 5

The Delta fire burns near Interstate 5 north of Redding

California's Delta Fire in Shasta County tripled in size overnight, forcing the closure of Interstate 5 in both directions as flames engulfed vehicles and drivers abandoned at least 17 tractor-trailers.

A firefighter sprays the smoldering remains of a vehicle on Interstate 5 as the Delta Fire burns in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California.

The US Forest Service said the blaze is now covering 38 square miles, up from 34 square miles on Thursday night.

As fall - usually California's busiest fire season - approaches, officials say the agency that oversees emergency fire responses is running out of money.

A 45-mile (72-km) stretch of the I-5, a key north-south route through the entire state, has remained closed since then, requiring traffic detours of up to 120 miles (193 km), officials said.

The unrelenting flames have drained California's firefighting budget and prompted almost $1 billion in property claims even before the start of the unsafe fall fire season, officials said Thursday. On Wednesday, flames raced across Interstate 5, chasing a number of truckers from their vehicles before flames engulfed their abandoned rigs, though no serious injuries were reported.

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An explosive wildfire closed down dozens of miles of a major California freeway only weeks after a nearby blaze that left neighbourhoods in ruins and killed eight people.

Underhill didn't know how many homes were evacuated, since she said it's a rural area with scattered residences.

Numerous eastern Hirz Fire contingency lines may be used in the efforts to control the Delta Fire.

The Mendocino Complex - two blazes that burned side by side north of San Francisco - also prompted the evacuation of thousands of people. It was moving rapidly but was still far from any large towns.

The Delta Fire started Wednesday and had expanded to 22,000 acres by Friday morning.

Earlier, traffic was also backing up as major roads closed in the area of the fire - namely, northbound I-5 at the Fawndale exit and southbound I-5 at the intersection of Highway 89.

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Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey said the fire seems to have slowed, but since it's burning about 15 miles from the city, residents of Dunsmuir should make sure their cars are ready and their belongings are in place.

Fire trucks pass the Delta Fire burning in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018. East of Interstate 5 at Sims Flat, crews are using an existing Hirz Fire contingency line along Sweetbriar Ridge as an indirect control line for the Delta Fire to limit its northeastern spread.

US Forest Service workers helped the driver of one flaming truck to safety and other truckers and firefighters aided other drivers, Foster said.

The Delta Fire, the latest wildfire to chew through heavy brush and terrain in Shasta County at a rapid clip, has grown to almost 58 square miles and continues to burn without containment.

The Hirz Fire, meanwhile, remained at 46,150 acres and 89 percent containment; officials report they expect full containment of that blaze, which has burned since August 9, on Sunday.

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