California is taking a financial wallop from unrelenting wildfires that have drained its firefighting budget and prompted almost $1 billion in property claims even before the start of the unsafe fall fire season, officials said.
The U.S. Forest Service said Friday the deadly blaze burning in the Mendocino area since July 27 killed a Utah firefighter, destroyed 157 homes and charred 717 square miles (1860 square kilometers).
The blaze has blackened 23 square miles (60 square kilometers), prompting mandatory evacuations.
The blaze comes as the area is already grappling with the destruction and trauma from the devastating Carr Fire, which burned over 1,000 homes and led to the deaths of eight people this summer.
About 45 miles (72 kilometres) of the I-5 were closed in both directions, said Chris Losi, a spokesman for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
The Delta fire is believed to have been human-caused, but details aren't available at this time. Seventeen tractor-trailers were abandoned on the highway and at least four of the vehicles were destroyed by the flames.
A fast-moving wildfire has shut down a almost 50-mile stretch of one the busiest freeways in Northern California, after it torched at least two big rigs and forced motorists to flee cars and trucks as the state endures one of its worst fire seasons.
An explosive wildfire closed down dozens of miles of a major California freeway only weeks after a nearby blaze that left neighbourhoods in ruins and killed eight people.
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The AP noted that Cal Fire has requested additional funding in seven of the past 10 years, though the latest one has come earlier in the year than any previous requests.
"The fire progressed primarily to the northwest, but it is also extremely active along the eastern edge between Interstate 5 and the Hirz Fire", according to the US Forest Service."There are several areas along the southern perimeter where the fire crossed over primary control lines and crews are aggressively attacking these slop-overs to prevent the fire from making southerly progress".
The Delta Fire burns in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018.
Firefighters monitor a backfire while battling the Delta Fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest this week.
Some flames reached 300 feet in height, according to a U.S. Forest Service incident report.
Although the fire was not burning near any large towns, Mr Vacarro said about 280 homes were considered threatened.
"They had a lot of ground troops- they just didn't have many people to manage them, so our people were in charge of crews", he said. Officials have issued a warning to residents of potential evacuation, although the fire was about 15 miles away on Friday afternoon.
The Hirz Fire, meanwhile, remained at 46,150 acres and 89 percent containment; officials report they expect full containment of that blaze, which has burned since August 9, on Sunday.