California’s Delta Fire has rapidly spread to more than 47,000 acres as firefighters race to contain the destructive wildfire. The five-day-old fire has prompted highway closings and evacuations in the Lakehead, California, region.
As of Monday morning, the Delta Fire expanded to 47,110 acres and was 5 percent contained. The fire, which ignited on Wednesday, is believed to be human-caused, though it was not clear whether authorities believed it was deliberate or accidental. More than 2,300 fire personnel were working to contain the fire.
Officials said that crews were focused on holding primary control lines and protecting threatened homes, communities and natural resources. On Sunday, crews and engines worked on structure protection in the western flank of the fire by Trinity Lake, according to an incident report.
Firefighters focused on extinguishing short-range spot fires and completing burnout operations above Dog Creek Road, officials said. Efforts were aimed at limiting the fire’s growth toward the communities of Riverview, Pollock and Lakehead.
The Delta Fire prompted the closure of parts of Interstate 5. As of Saturday, I-5 heading northbound was closed at the Fawndale exit, about 10 miles north of Redding. Officials said that Lakehead residents with their IDs would be permitted to travel beyond the closure but others would be detoured. Interstate 5 heading southbound was closed at Mott Road, approximately 3.6 miles south of Mount Shasta. Residents of Dunsmuir would be allowed past the closure, while others would be detoured.
The fire continued to burn on both sides of the highway. Authorities said that the road was “unsafe for vehicular travel,” except for emergency vehicles, utility company staff and timberland employees.
U.S. Forest Service spokesman Brandon Vaccaro told the San Francisco Chronicle there were some concerns the fire could wrap back around I-5.
“That could force us to have to close the freeway again, which would be bad, or trap motorists on the freeway, which would be worse,” Vaccaro said.
It remained unclear when the roadway will be reopened.
The Delta Fire also prompted evacuations in Shasta and Trinity counties. In Shasta County, a mandatory evacuation notice was issued for residents living along the I-5 corridor from exit 707 at Vollmers north to exit 714 at Gibson.
In Trinity County, a mandatory evacuation notice was issued for residents of East Fork Road to Ramshorn Road east to the Shasta-Trinity county line. An evacuation advisory was issued from the east Fork/East Side Road junction west to Highway 3 northward to Ramshorn Road, authorities said.
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office also issued an evacuation warning for residents of Dunsmuir.
A preliminary containment date has been set for September 22. California Interagency Incident Management Team and CalFire assumed unified command for the Delta and Hirz Fires, the U.S. Forest Service announced on Monday.