California Wildfire Expands To Over 15,000 Acres, Closes I-5

A fire that has been burning since Wednesday afternoon in Northern California has continued to spread, now up to 15,294 acres on Thursday morning, reports KRCRTV.

On Wednesday afternoon, the fire started burning on both sides of I-5, leading to the highway being closed in both directions. The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office is calling for an evacuation of much of the county, evacuating everyone north of the towns of Vollmers and Delta, with sheriff’s vehicles unable to get into the area to assist those evacuating.

No deaths have been reported, but the sheriff’s office did have to rescue people from the highway, with one transported to the hospital due to injuries.

The U.S. Forest Service immediately jumped into action requesting full air and ground response crews to try and contain the fire, with Cal Fire and the nearby Redding Fire Department coming into the area to help with the response.

I-5 has remained closed since the fire broke out and officials have been reluctant to make any predictions on when the highway could reopen, with the fire still zero percent contained, with officials meeting later today to determine if the highway could be opened. That closure has led to big rig trucks being abandoned on the side of the road, reports the Associated Press.

“There’s vehicles scattered all over, whatever occurred here was probably pretty ugly for a while,” said Brandon Vaccaro of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

One of the important structures in the path of the fire is Castle Rock Union Elementary School which was evacuated and remained closed on Thursday following the outbreak of the fire, with all students and staff safe following the evacuation.

The weather overnight saw the fire triple in size, from just over 5,000 acres to the now over 15,000 with the fire covering 23 square miles. That was largely due to weather conditions which not only allowed the fire to spread rapidly but prevented any of the aerial firefighting to take place.

Authorities say that the fire was caused by a human, reports the AP, but there was no confirmation on whether it was caused intentionally or accidentally.

This fire comes just weeks after another fire broke out in nearby Redding, destroying homes and killing eight, but this fire is not likely to cause as much property damage or loss of life due to the area being rural and houses being spread out, with the nearest community, Dunsmuir, still 15 miles away from the fire.