Wildfire in Shasta County burns 15000

The fire shut down miles of Interstate 5 and there was no immediate word on when it would reopen

The fire shut down miles of Interstate 5 and there was no immediate word on when it would reopen

California is taking a financial wallop from unrelenting wildfires that have drained its firefighting budget and prompted almost $1 billion in property claims even before the start of the unsafe fall fire season, officials said Thursday.

The U.S. Forest Service said Friday the deadly blaze burning in the Mendocino area since July 27 killed a Utah firefighter, destroyed 157 homes and charred 717 square miles (1860 square kilometers).

Officials did not immediately say how many people the evacuation order affected.

Dubbed the Delta Fire, the blaze was the latest outbreak to hit the region this summer, and was said by officials to have been triggered by arson. On Wednesday, flames raced across Interstate 5, chasing a number of truckers from their vehicles before flames engulfed their abandoned rigs, though no serious injuries were reported.

About 17 trucks were abandoned along the interstate and at least four caught fire, Lieutenant Commander Kyle Foster of the California Highway Patrol's Mount Shasta office told the Los Angeles Times.

The 45-mile (72-kilometer) stretch of highway near the state line with OR has been closed since a fire Wednesday turned hills both sides of the roadway into walls of flame. The Hirz Fire in Shasta-Trinity National Forest has burned an area of more than 46,000 acres, but was 75 percent contained as of Thursday morning.

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey said the fire seems to have slowed, but since it's burning about 15 miles from the city, residents of Dunsmuir should make sure their cars are ready and their belongings are in place.

Portions of Interstate 5 have been shut down because of the fire.

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The Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, campgrounds and other areas were evacuated Wednesday. Cal Fire has requested extra money in seven of the past 10 years, but never this early, according to the Department of Finance.

A new wildfire was raging in northern California on Friday, having already devastated nearly 25,000 acres (10,000 hectares) in just two days and continuing to spread.

The fire ripped onto I-5 Wednesday afternoon, forcing frantic drivers to abandon their vehicles, including several big rigs.

Interstate 5 is seen completely empty in Lamoine, Calif., in the Shasta Trinity National Forest on September 6, 2018.

The department had spent $432 million through the end of August, said Ken Pimlott of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

"There is active fire close to the highway", she said.

The Delta Fire continued to grow aggressively throughout the evening and overnight with a large flaming front and flame lengths estimated at 300 feet high.

State Route 108 was closed from the Alpine-Mono county line to USA 395, which was already shut down in the mountainous region about 200 miles (320 kilometers) east of Sacramento, the California Department of Transportation said.

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