The Delta Fire continues to blaze through the Shasta Trinity National Forest on either side of Interstate 5 Friday night, growing to 31,325 acres with zero containment. Officials announced they plan to keep I-5 closed until at least Sunday morning.
The fire started during the afternoon of September 5 and created a chaotic scene on I-5 where truckers were forced to abandon their big rigs to escape the flames. Multiple trucks burned to the ground and although officials were able to clean up the remains, the flames remain on either side of the freeway causing a situation unsafe for drivers. Officials have identified 3,800 burned trees that need to be removed along the stretch of I-5 before it can be safe.
The fire continues to expand on either side of the freeway, spreading quickly to the north while also moving to the containment lines of the nearby Hirz Fire, which sits at 46,000 acres burned.
Massive walls of flames dominated the scene on Wednesday night, causing panic amongst onlookers. the fire quickly moved to 15,000 acres within the first day, but growth slowed in the following 24 hours.
Caltrans data show that an average of about 40,000 vehicles a day, including roughly 6,000 trucks, use the stretch of I-5 shut down by the fire. That traffic has been forced onto other roads — notably Highway 299 and 89, a 120-mile detour to the east on often narrow and twisting two-lane roads.
Mandatory evacuations remain in place for residents along the Interstate 5 corridor from exit 707 at Vollmers north to exit 714 at Gibson. The Trinity County Sheriff’s Office has issued a mandatory evacuation notice for residents of East Fork Toad to Ramshorn Road east to the Shasta Trinity County line. The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office has issued an evacuation warning, not a mandatory evacuation, for all residents of Dunsmuir.
Here are the current evacuation centers:
100 Mercy Oaks
Everitt Memorial Hwy
Homes have burned from the fire, although it remains unclear just how many. People posted photos of burnt homes to social media:
Smoke has been dense in the area, even causing nearby schools to close down. With the Hirz and Delta fires nearby, the air quality in Northern California doesn’t seem like it will improve anytime soon.
Go here for all other updates on the fire. We will update the story on Saturday morning.