Both directions of a major highway connecting California and OR were closed and evacuations were ordered Wednesday when a fast-moving wildfire swept through a wilderness area.
A raging wildfire burning in Shasta County has charred 15,294 acres as of Thursday morning, the U.S. Forest Service said.
Meanwhile, truckers who rely heavily on the I-5 to transport timber and other goods along the West Coast had the unenviable choice of waiting or taking a jammed detour that added 115 miles (185 kilometers) or so to their journeys.
As fall - usually California's busiest fire season - approaches, officials say the agency that oversees emergency fire responses is running out of money. Vehicles, including numerous trucks, were stalled on the highway on Thursday as flames burned trees and leapt over the road.
An explosive wildfire closed down dozens of miles of a major California freeway only weeks after a nearby blaze that left neighborhoods in ruins and killed eight people.
It is the same area where the Carr Fire broke out in late July, destroying hundreds of homes and killing three firefighters.
US Forest Service workers helped the driver of one flaming truck to safety while truckers, firefighters and others aided more drivers.
Evacuation orders remain in effect for Shasta County residents along the Interstate 5 corridor from Exit 707 at Vollmers north to Exit 714 at Gibson, as well as for residents in Trinity County from East Fork Road to Ramshorn Road east to the county line.
The Carr fire has gone on to ravage 1000 homes and has killed at least seven people, while the Mendocino has been declared the largest in state history, having burnt through nearly 300,000 acres of land. Interstate 5 usually swarms with trucks and traffic as it winds its way through California.
The underbrush is being removed with a combination of bulldozers and hand tools, as well as controlled burning operations, Captain Brandon Vaccaro, a spokesman for the Delta fire incident command, said.
"Siskiyou County Evacuations: The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office has issued an evacuation warning for all residents of Dunsmuir".
"People are packing right now, just to be ready in case", he said.
California's firefighting agency is about to exceed its budget and needs $234 million more, Cal Fire director Ken Pimlott said in a letter to lawmakers Thursday. In all, the fire has burned 36,349 acres and is 85 percent contained as of Wednesday.
"I've been evacuated for fires myself", the hot-shot firefighter said.
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