California Wildfire Shuts Down Freeway

By Grace James

CASTAIC, Calif. ( — A wildfire broke out Saturday near Castaic, resulting in the California Highway Patrol’s closure of Interstate 5 in both directions, according to officials.

The fire, known as the Route Fire, was reported by The U.S. Forest Service shortly before 5 p.m. The Route Fire reached 450 acres, or more than half a square mile, forcing a stretch of the busy freeway to be shut down, an Angeles National Forest spokesperson said.

The fire has remained completely uncontained, and two firefighters sustained burn injuries Sunday after most of the interstate’s reopening. According to the U.S. Forest Service, firefighters were making “good progress” with the aid of water-dropping helicopters and an aggressive ground attack.

Meanwhile, residents of Northern California mountain town, Grizzly Flats, affected by the vast Caldor Fire south of Lake Tahoe will be allowed back Sunday to inspect the damage. Most of the town’s homes, the school, post office, church and fire station were destroyed during the first days of the fire.

Aside from the 342-square-mile wildfire, firefighters also had to fight multiple overnight lightning fires from Thursday and Friday night thunderstorms.

The rain from the thunderstorms slightly dampened the drought-stricken north, according to fire officials. However, officials said the rain is drying fast and vegetation is becoming more flammable.

Despite firefighters’ efforts, almost a half-inch of rain fell on portions of the Dixie Fire, which began in mid-July and has burned through huge swaths of the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades. The second-largest fire in California history has burned 1,500 square miles (3,885 square kilometers) of land and more than 1,300 homes and other buildings. It was 65% contained.


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