Wildfire keeps major California highway closed for third day

Dramatic moment wildfire explodes along a California freeway

Dramatic moment wildfire explodes along a California freeway

A roaring wildfire that has shut down a stretch of a major interstate in a rural area near the California-Oregon border almost doubled in size overnight.

In Northern California, the Delta fire - which forced the closure of a stretch of Interstate 5, which runs the length of the state - had consumed almost 37,000 acres as of Saturday, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile crews near California's border with Nevada gained minimal containment of another wildfire that closed highways on the edge of the Sierra Nevada.

Denise Yergenson, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation, said Friday the wildfire that shut down Interstate 5 on Wednesday was still burning out of control along the highway.

Authorities announced Friday that a 45-mile (72-kilometer) section of Interstate 5 north of Redding would remain closed at least until Sunday.

An up-to-date list of mandated evacuated areas is available, here.

The blaze Thursday along Interstate 5 has blackened 23 square miles (60 square kilometers), prompting mandatory evacuations.

While New Zealanders fighting fires in OR to the north had been glad of their Swanndris to keep them warm at night, in California the heat was "unrelenting", 30C overnight and 40C during the day.

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The fire that started in north of Redding is forcing evacuations beyond Shasta County, in Trinity and Siskiyou counties, too.

On Wednesday the fire spread more rapidly, burning through 15,000 acres in California's Shasta County in just one day.

The Delta Fire was human-caused, fire officials said, but they didn't indicate whether it was arson or accident.

Fire spokesman Brandon Vacarro says work crews have cleared away burned and abandoned trucks that littered the road after the swift-moving blaze erupted but they must also determine whether charred 70-foot (21-meter) trees along the road are in danger of falling.

A long stretch of Interstate 5 (I-5), a major highway that runs the length of the West Coast from Canada to Mexico, was closed to prevent motorists from being trapped by the blaze. "Whatever occurred here was probably pretty ugly for a while".

'It isn't a lot of people, ' he said.

California has been hit with one massive blaze after another over the summer, including a blaze not far from the Delta Fire that last month burned about 1,100 homes and killed eight people.

Amtrak delayed its Coast Starlight service from Sacramento to OR because of the fire. Farther north, an evacuation warning was in effect for the town of Dunsmuir, advising some 1,600 residents to be ready to flee at a moment's notice.

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