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Firefighters advance on blaze that shut California highway

UPDATED: Sun., Sept. 12, 2021

Associated Press

Associated Press

CASTAIC, Calif. – Firefighters were making progress on a wildfire that jumped across a Southern California freeway and spread across dry hillsides while a new blaze forced residents of a Northern California community to evacuate.

A fire broke out Saturday afternoon near Castaic in northern Los Angeles County. Pushed by 10-15 mph winds, the blaze chewed through tinder-dry brush and jumped across the busy freeway, spread across more than a half of a square mile.

The California Highway Patrol closed a stretch of the interstate for several hours as air tankers dropped bright-orange retardant on the flames. A large flareup sent heavy smoke drifting toward freeway lanes Sunday afternoon, the CHP reported.

Two firefighters were taken to the hospital to treat burn injuries, said Andrew Mitchell, a spokesman for the Angeles National Forest.

The fire remained uncontained due to the mountainous terrain, but firefighters made progress overnight with the help of water-dropping aircraft and an aggressive ground attack, Mitchell said.

He said crews will take advantage of the beginning of a cooling trend Sunday to build containment lines.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Meanwhile, a fire that erupted Sunday afternoon prompted Mendocino County authorities to evacuate parts of Calpella, a community on the Russian River about 6 miles north of Ukiah. Video footage posted on Twitter shows the fire pushing in the direction of Lake Mendocino.

Further north, residents of a mountain town devastated by the huge Caldor Fire south of Lake Tahoe were allowed back Sunday to inspect the damage. Most of Grizzly Flat’s homes, as well as the school, post office, church and fire station were destroyed in the first days of the month-old fire. Evacuation orders were also lifted for homes along State Route 50 as containment of the 342-square-mile wildfire increased to 65%.

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