Interstate 5 reopens after California blaze forces closure

  • In this photo provided by the California Department of Transportation, lanes are closed on northbound Interstate 5 with the Delta Fire burning in the background Friday, Sept. 7, 2018, near Lakehead, Calif. A stretch of a major highway near the California-Oregon border will remain closed through the weekend as crews try to tame a roaring wildfire burning on both sides of the north-south route, authorities announced Friday. The blaze that shut down Interstate 5 on Wednesday was still burning out of control, said Denise Yergenson, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation. (Joe Spini/California Department of Transportation via AP)

  • In this Friday, Sept. 7, 2018 photo, fire fighters from Yocha Dehe Fire Department work together to put out a grass fire along I-5 at Earl Sholes Memorial Bridge near Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Calif. A roaring wildfire that has shut down a stretch of a major interstate in a rural area near the California-Oregon border has nearly doubled in size. The blaze in California’s Shasta-Trinity National Forest is burning out of control and crews on Saturday are scrambling to prevent it from reaching mountain communities to the north. (Hung T. Vu/The Record Searchlight via AP)

SHASTA-TRINITY NATIONAL FOREST, Calif. — A major interstate that connects California and Oregon reopened Monday after a wildfire roared along the roadway and forced a six-day closure while burned trees and charred vehicles were removed.

One lane in each direction of Interstate 5 near the Oregon border was reopened with some restrictions and warnings of slow traffic, California Department of Transportation spokeswoman Denise Yergenson said.

With the fire still burning, vehicles carrying flammable materials, including hay, wood chips, lumber and logs, will not be allowed along the 17-mile (27-kilometer) stretch in Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

“Motorists should anticipate long lines of vehicles and long delays,” Yergenson said.

The stretch of highway that traverses the West Coast from Mexico to Canada and serves as a main artery for commerce had been closed since Wednesday, when the wildfire forced motorists to abandon trucks and cars as a wall of flames descended from hills along the highway.

Officials have determined that the freeway is safe for travel, but potential closures could be ordered at any time. Access ramps along the stretch remained closed.

The blaze has chewed through 64 square miles (165 square kilometers) of timber and brush. It was 5 percent contained Monday.

The highway closure forced trucks and other traffic to take smaller, winding roads that added 100 miles (160 kilometers) and as long as eight hours to trips in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

It was the latest of several major fires that have ravaged the area this summer. The current fire was moving into an area that previously burned.

The wildfire also was close to the scene of a massive blaze that killed eight people and burned about 1,100 homes before it was contained last month.

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