UPDATE: The Delta Fire in Northern California’s Shasta County continued to burn out of control early on Friday, threatening homes and keeping Interstate 5 from reopening. Motorists were forced to flee on foot on Wednesday before flames engulfed their cars and trucks, fire officials said of the fire that has already scorched 22,000 acres since it began on Wednesday. The fire started in a Shasta-Trinity National Forest canyon along the Sacramento River, about 250 miles north of San Francisco, the California Interagency Incident Management Team said in an advisory as reported by Reuters.
As of Thursday, firefighters had been unable to contain the blaze, said Brandon Vaccaro, a spokesman for the Delta Fire command team, but a gradual rise in humidity is forecast, which could help slow the fire’s growth.
The fire was threatening about 150 homes and other buildings in the sparsely populated region. About 300 people were under mandatory evacuation orders, Vaccaro said on Thursday.
Farther north, an evacuation warning was in effect for the town of Dunsmuir, advising some 1,600 residents to be ready to flee at a moment’s notice.
The blaze has raged with the same intensity seen in several wildfires in recent months. Fueled by drought-ravaged pine forests thick with dead and dying timber, flames spread quickly, leaping from treetop to treetop and hurling showers of embers into more dried-out vegetation.
The Delta Fire was one of about 15 blazes burning across California this week. Three times more ground has burned in California so far this year than at the same point in 2017, which ranks as one of the most destructive seasons on record.