Cajon Pass Wildfire Burns 3,500 Acres In 3 Hours, 20 Cars Destroyed

A devastating wildfire blazed through Cajon Pass in San Bernardino county, Friday afternoon, closing north and southbound lanes on the I-15 Freeway before engulfing over 20 cars in flames and burning down several homes.

The scourging blaze started as a vegetation fire off Freeway I-15 in Cajon Pass around 2:30 p.m. Friday, with 40 to 45 mile-per-hour winds growing the inferno to over 3,500 acres by 5:45 p.m. the same day.

A KTLA5 report stated that the timing and location of the blaze created unfavorable circumstances which impeded the immediate response of firefighters and rescue crews. Firefighting crews were caught in a grid lock created from people abandoning their cars to escape the blaze, then drone activity delayed firefighting aircraft from reaching Cajon Pass.

Those on the freeway caught in the wake of the blaze ran for their lives as traffic ground to a halt and embers flying on 40 mph winds carried the intense heat over the freeway. One eyewitness reported by the LA Times describes a car in Cajon Pass, only a few cars in front of her’s, bursting into flames, before she and her friend ran down the side of the freeway in Cajon Pass to escape the deadly fire.

Freeway 15 is a highly traveled route between Los Angeles and Las Vegas which experiences heavy traffic during the times the Cajon Pass wildfire started. Commuters traveling on the freeway at the time the fire began were forced to leave their cars as the thick black smoke from the fire made it impossible to see the road. Rescue crews stationed along the highway gave water to those stranded by the fire.

The resulting gridlock blocked efforts of the San Bernadino Fire Department from reaching Cajon Pass in time to squelch the inferno before it leaped the freeway, engulfing 18 cars and two tractor trailers. Tow trucks had to be called in to relocate between 70 and 80 cars left on the highway, many with no keys

The fire blazed through the Baldy Mesa, Oak Hills, and Phelan areas of Cajon Pass, leaving five homes destroyed and several damaged in the wake of its destruction. Evacuation centers were set up throughout Cajon Pass, and a 1,000 firefighters spread over the valley to protect homes and other structures from being swallowed in the inferno.

Only a few injuries have been reported as a result of the blaze so far. For more information and to stay updated on the latest about the blaze, visit the link here.

[Image from LA Times]