Wildfire forces closure of part of freeway in California

U.S. & World

In this aerial photo released by the Los Angeles County Fire Department Air Operations traffic passes the Route fire, a brush wildfire off Interstate 5 north of Castaic, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (Los Angeles County Fire Air Operations via AP)

CASTIAC, Calif. (AP) — A wildfire near Castaic Saturday has led to the closure of a part of a major freeway in Southern California, officials told local media.

The fire, known as the Route Fire, reached 392 acres, or a little more than half a square mile, as of 6:28 p.m. and forced the shutdown of a section of Interstate 5, an Angeles National Forest spokesperson told KTLA-TV.

KTLA reported that the Route Fire is threatening structures, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Santa Clarita Valley station.

The fire was uncontained as of 6:30 p.m., authorities said.

Elsewhere in California, thunderstorms that dropped light rain gave some breathing room to crews struggling to quench the state’s massive wildfires but lightning sparked several new blazes in the drought-stricken north, fire officials said.

The storms that rolled through Thursday night into Friday were followed by weekend forecasts of clear weather and a warming trend in fire areas into next week.

The National Weather Service said there were more than 1,100 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in California between Thursday evening and Friday morning. Fire officials said lightning strikes ignited at least 17 fires.

Firefighters were diverted from the huge Caldor Fire south of Lake Tahoe to fight multiple overnight lightning fires throughout El Dorado County, fire officials said. However, most of the blazes were kept to under 10 acres (4 hectares).

Three new fires were reported in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks in steep, dense forest areas of the Sierra Nevada.

Up to 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 1,490 square miles (3,859 square kilometers) of land and more than 1,300 homes and other buildings. It was 59% contained.

The rain wet tinder-dry vegetation and will cool down the fire for one or two days, which firefighters hoped to use to strengthen and expand fire lines in an effort to finally surround the blaze, fire officials said.

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