The Delta Fire burning in Shasta County since last Wednesday has surpassed 53,000 acres (83 square miles) and remains just 5 percent contained as of Tuesday morning, Cal Fire said.
Fire crews received some assistance from smoke coverage, which shaded the blaze from sunlight part of Monday, but a National Weather Service red flag warning is in place from 1 p.m. Tuesday through 8 a.m. Wednesday for the area, indicating “strong and gusty winds” and low humidity that could worsen fire conditions.
Erupting 10 miles north of Redding near Lakehead, the Delta Fire closed Interstate 5 in both directions for a near-50 mile stretch from Wednesday until Monday morning, when Caltrans and California Highway Patrol announced the freeway was open to through traffic only, with some restrictions. Flammable vehicles, such as gas tankers or trucks hauling lumber, are not currently permitted through the fire zone, Caltrans says, with these vehicles advised to take Highway 299 as a detour.
A 17-mile stretch of I-5 remains closed to one lane in each direction, according to a report on Inciweb.
Mandatory evacuation orders remain in place in parts of Shasta and Trinity counties, with evacuation shelters set up at Mercy Oaks in Redding and the National Guard Armory in Mount Shasta. Updated information can be found on Inciweb and on the Facebook pages of the Shasta County, Siskyou County and Trinity County sheriff’s offices.
Nearly 2,400 fire personnel were assigned to the fire as of Monday night, according to the latest Cal Fire incident report.
The Delta Fire caused damage and delays along I-5 in Shasta County, where evacuations remain in place. Dramatic images from the first two days of the fire show truckers driving into heavy smoke and fire conditions before I-5 was closed. CHP reported that more than a dozen truckers abandoned their big rigs on I-5 Wednesday, and at least four of those trucks were consumed by the fire.
One U.S. Forest Service incident report estimated flames from the Delta Fire raged as much as 300 feet high at one point late last week.
Cal Fire took central command of firefighting operations on the Delta Fire on Monday. U.S. Forest Service’s Shasta-Trinity National Forest unit had been the lead agency on the incident before then.
The fire is considered human caused, but more details are not known, according to incident reports.