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.
The Delta Fire that erupted Wednesday afternoon and devoured timber and brush on both sides of Interstate 5 near the OR state line had expanded to 23 square miles Thursday (60 square kilometers), prompting mandatory evacuations, the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement.
The Mendocino Complex - which was made up of two fires - burned some 1,100 homes in and around the Redding area and killed eight people last month.
The Delta Fire was human-caused, fire officials said, but they didn't indicate whether it was arson or accident.
Fierce orange flames forced panicked truckers to abandon big-rigs and brought screams from motorists as they watched the advancing fire in Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
The blaze has devoured timber and brush on both sides of Interstate 5 - damaging several big rigs and forcing the closure since Wednesday of a 45-mile stretch of the freeway, which runs between Mexico and Canada.
The Delta Fire takes on almost ten thousand more acres, and is still zero percent contained. 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.
Follow the Shasta County Sheriff's Facebook page: "www.facebook.com/Shasta-County-Sheriffs-Office-1527637610823075/". But truck drivers headed through Sacramento felt the long delays as Interstate 5 remains closed. Life safety is a top priority for firefighters, and the Shasta County Sheriff's Office is coordinating evacuations for areas affected by the incident.
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In 2018 to date, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has fought 4,587 fires blackening 612,710 acres, the agency reported. Heat imagery tracked by satellite showed the eastern flank of the Delta Fire burning at the edge of the Hirz Fire's containment lines.
Interstate 5, the primary north/south highway in Northern California, is closed from 10 miles north of Redding at Fawndale Road to 3 miles south of Mount Shasta at Mott Road.
Being in such close proximity to the delta fire has doubled smoke issues in the area, impacting firefighters, by reducing visibility.
Vicinity map showing the location of the Delta, Hirz, and Carr fires. It was 8 square miles (21 square kilometers) on Wednesday.
The Delta Fire erupted Wednesday afternoon and within hours had devoured almost 8 square miles (21 square kilometres) of timber and brush on both sides of Interstate 5 near the OR state line.
One of the two blazes was fully contained in August and residents have been allowed to return home.