San Francisco Chronicle
Sep. 1—A fast-growing brush fire forced evacuations and the closure of I-5 near Los Angeles on Wednesday as California braces for the dual onslaught of a heat wave and Labor Day weekend travel.
The Route Fire, which began burning Wednesday afternoon near Castaic, north of Santa Clarita, had spread to more than 4,000 acres and spurred evacuations at Paradise Mobile Estates and south of Templin Highway along Upper Ridge Route Road, according to the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
The state’s main interior artery I-5 was also closed in both directions near Castaic, according to a social media alert by CalTrans.
How long I-5 will remain closed was “unknown,” the transit agency warned drivers on Wednesday. “Seek alternate routes, possibly Route 14 and 138.”
Due to the fire located around I-5 and Lake Hughes Road, Caltrans said northbound lanes of the freeway were stopped at Parker Road and southbound traffic was halted at Templin Highway.
Photos taken from the freeway and posted by CalTrans showed billowing smoke, charred hills and a thin line of flames approaching the interstate. The area was already under an excessive heat warning, with temperatures hovering around 107 degrees.
Late Wednesday afternoon, L.A. County fire officials said in a social media post that two firefighters were transported to a local hospital due to “minor heat related injuries.”
Meteorolgists are closely monitoring a “heat dome” arriving this week in California, which is expected to send temperatures in outlying parts of the Bay Area soaring into triple-digits.
Amid a severe statewide drought, extreme heat will dry out already-parched vegetation, elevating wildfire risks, though forecasters remain hopeful that low winds could help slow the spread of fires.
Lauren Hepler (she/her) is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @LAHepler
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