Wildfire closes key California highway through the weekend

A fire rages as motorists travel on Interstate 5 near Lake Shasta Calif. Wednesday Sept. 5 2018

A highway running the length of California remains closed near the OR border where a wildfire continues to rage.

The recommended detour for I-5 motorists, using Highway 299, adds 140 miles of driving.

Google Maps continues to update the California fire map with information about fires to which the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) is responding, along with information about evacuations and road closures.

The US Forest Service said the blaze is now covering 38 square miles, up from 34 square miles on Thursday night.

Jessica Gardetto, a spokeswoman for the National Interagency Fire Center, told the newspaper that wildfires are likely to grow and become more hard to contain.

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Drivers on I-5 in northern California got a big scare this week as towering flames raged on both sides of the highway.

Fire spokesman Brandon Vacarro says work crews have cleared away burned and abandoned trucks that littered the road after the swift-moving blaze erupted but they must also determine whether charred 70-foot (21-meter) trees along the road are in danger of falling.

As of Sunday morning, the blaze had devoured 63.9 square miles (165 ½ square kilometers).

Flames from a backfire burned around a fire truck battling the Delta Fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Calif., on Thursday.

"It's been ridiculously congested".

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Much of the effort has also focused on protecting scattered homes and small communities in the sparsely populated fire zone, but an unspecified number of homes have been destroyed, he said.

California has been hit with one massive blaze after another, including a blaze not far from the Delta Fire that last month burned about 1,100 homes and killed eight people.

"They had a lot of ground troops- they just didn't have many people to manage them, so our people were in charge of crews", he said.

The Delta Fire was human-caused, fire officials said, but they didn't indicate whether it was arson or accident. It continued to spread east and has merged with the 46,000-acre Hirz Fire.

The unrelenting flames have drained California's firefighting budget and prompted almost $1 billion in property claims even before the start of the risky fall fire season, officials said Thursday.

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