Northern California wildfire threatens homes, closes major highway

Fast-moving fire erupts north of Redding shutting down Interstate 5

The Delta fire burns near Interstate 5 north of Redding

California fires continue to light up the Golden State, with the Delta Fire and Hirz Fire two of the latest wildfires in Northern California to impact residents, as well as travelers passing through the region thanks to I-5 closures. This is partially because three fires merged into one fire, but also because the fire is extremely active at the moment.

The California agency responsible for battling wildfires in the state says it needs $234 million more to effectively combat wildfires for the remainder of 2018.

The Mendocino Complex Fire, now contained at 98 percent, consists of the Ranch and River fires in Lake County. It is progressing primarily to the north and is burning actively in brush and timber in steep terrain.

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. On the first map below, maintained by CAL FIRE, the Delta Fire is not one of the top three fires, but it's just below the top two, located almost on top of the Hirz Fire. It looks like there's a chance that the Delta Fire and the Hirz Fire might ultimately merge.

The Delta fire is believed to have been human-caused, but details aren't available at this time.

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As of Thursday morning, the Ranch Fire has burned 410,203 acres and is 98 percent contained; the River Fire has burned 48,920 acres and is fully contained, according to the Mendocino National Forest service, which has taken over full command of the Ranch Fire.

The recommended detour for I-5 motorists, using Highway 299, adds 140 miles of driving. It ignited around 1 p.m. Wednesday about 2 miles north of Lakehead. Parked trucks lined more than two miles of Interstate 5 as both directions remained closed to traffic.

Follow the Shasta County Sheriff's Facebook page:

Wipari Henwood and his crew were driving through the small Californian town of French Gulch, evacuated in this past month's fires, when a white Ford pick-up truck swerved across in front of them and jammed on the brakes. According to the Sheriff's Office, an evacuation center will be opening at the Mt. Shasta Community Center, located at 629 Alder Mt. Shasta. To limit the fire's northeast progression, crews are strengthening and improving control lines south of Sweetbriar Ridge while maintaining it as a contingency option. There's a high call volume to this line, so leave a message if someone doesn't answer.

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