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New fire shuts down I-5, forces evacuations in Northern California

By Nicholas Sakelaris
New fire shuts down I-5, forces evacuations in Northern California
A firefighter consoles a resident in Lake Elsinore, Calif., during the Holy Fire -- which is one of several fires that have burned California this summer. One, the Delta Fire, started Wednesday and grew quickly to consume 5,000 acres. Photo by David McNew/EPA-EFE

Sept. 6 (UPI) -- A new wildfire is growing fast in Northern California, destroying vehicles on the state's largest freeway and forcing residents to flee, officials said Thursday.

The Delta Fire has grown to more than 5,000 acres, just 10 miles from the long-burning Hirz Fire, Cal Fire said Thursday.

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Officials said the fire was human-caused, but that cause hasn't been determined. The blaze is spreading rapidly to the north into Slate Creek and east toward the Hirz Fire.

Interstate 5 has been closed for about 10 miles around Redding, about 130 miles northwest of Sacramento in Shasta County. I-5 is California's largest freeway and runs north-south from the Oregon border through San Diego.

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"There's vehicles scattered all over," Brandon Vaccaro said. "Whatever occurred here was probably pretty ugly for a while."

At least two homes were destroyed and authorities ordered evacuations for homes along I-5 north of Lakehead. A shelter has opened for displaced residents in Mt. Shasta. An elementary school had to be evacuated and a high school in the area will start late.

The Hirz Fire northeast of Redding is the largest fire still burning in California. Officials said it's 70 percent contained and has burned more than 45,000 acres.

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RELATED Mendocino Complex Fire grows by 10,000 acres

To the west, the Ranch Fire in Mendocino, Lake and Colusa counties is 98 percent contained after charring 410,000 acres since late July. The cause of that fire, the largest in the state's history, is under investigation.

The North Fire has increased to 1,000 acres in the rocky hills of the American River Canyon. It's 10 percent contained. The Sliger Fire started this week near Georgetown forcing evacuations near the El Dorado-Placer county line. It's burned 80 acres and is 30 percent contained.

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