California heat wave, wild fire close interstate
On the first day of an extraordinary heat wave, a brush fire broke out in Southern California and quickly spread, closing a major roadway, officials said. No buildings were reported destroyed
by the Route Fire near Castaic, north of Los Angeles, as of Wednesday night, but the blaze had already spread across more than 4,600 acres. Both directions of Interstate 5 were stopped as a result.
Los Angeles County Fire Captain Sheila Kelliher Berkoh reported that the fire started east of I-5 at around noon, when most of California was experiencing an excessive heat warning.
There was no mention of containment. Shortly before 2 p.m. on Wednesday, the National Weather Service reported temperatures of 109 degrees in the area. "We're really on Day One of approximately
a nine to 10-day extremely significant heat spell," Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief Tom Ewald said at a press conference. He said that firefighters "basically take a beating"
because of how hard their job is on their bodies. Ewald claimed eight firefighters were hurt by the heat and six of them were taken to the hospital. They're in fine shape right now.
On Wednesday, Kelliher Berkoh reported that more than 350 firefighters from Los Angeles County and the U.S. Forest Service were working to contain the blaze using a total of 15 aircraft.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Departments Lt. Brandon Barclay said that between 100 and 200 homes had to be evacuated. Officials were unable to provide an estimated reopening time for Interstate 5
which connects Los Angeles to northern communities like Bakersfield. Capt. Ed Krusey of the California Highway Patrol has said, "We're hoping it will be relatively soon."
On Wednesday, drivers heading north were rerouted around the blaze. On Wednesday, the meteorological service issued heat advisories for more than 35 million people across the West and Southwest,
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