Wildfire keeps major California highway closed for third day

NZ firefighters return home after battling California blazes         
          RNZ

NZ firefighters return home after battling California blazes RNZ

The fire has chewed through 150 square kilometres of timber since Wednesday.

Much of the effort has also focused on protecting scattered homes and small communities in the sparsely populated fire zone, but an unspecified number of homes have been destroyed, he said.

The Shasta County fire moved so fast that it prompted the closure of about 80km of Interstate 5 in both directions.

"It's been ridiculously congested".

Fire officials say they don't expect to have containment of the fire, which started on Wednesday, until at least September 22. "They're just stuck, they can't get through and they're sick of waiting around". The general mood is just exhausted and upset.

"It's just going to be a mess out there on I-5", Hinkson said in a Facebook Live video from near the fire.

Firefighters are working to strengthen and improve a control line on Middle Ridge, which will offer an opportunity to conduct defensive back burning operations and hold the fire from spreading further north along the Interstate 5 corridor.

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The Delta Fire 24 miles north of Redding, California on Friday added another 12,000 acres moving north, south, east, and west through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. "We have been everywhere from the Carr (which destroyed homes in Redding) to the Whaleback (in the Sierra near Susanville), to the Mendocino Complex and more here".

"You can't underestimate the value of our people getting the opportunity to go over there and practice those skills on these large incidents and bring those skills home for us in the future".

Fire officials said in a statement that crews were setting dozer lines and backfires to protect Highland Springs, north of Boulder Creek, as well as Castella and Dunsmuir farther north.

The Mendocino Complex Fire, which was active for over 35 days, burned more than 186,000 hectares (459,000 acres), making it the largest complex fire in the state's history.

The Delta Fire was human-caused, fire officials said, but they didn't indicate whether it was arson or accident. It was only fully contained last week.

The Forest Service did not release containment figures but California Highway Patrol Officer Jason Morton says the blaze is zero percent contained and still burning along Interstate 5.

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