Truckers abandoned big-rigs and motorists screamed in fear as they came dangerously close to an explosive wildfire that shut down about 45 miles (72 kilometers) of a major California interstate near the Oregon border that authorities were desperately trying to reopen.
The fire erupted Wednesday afternoon in a rural area and devoured timber and brush on both sides of Interstate 5 as it nearly tripled in size overnight, officials said Thursday.
It was raging just weeks after a blaze in the Redding area killed eight people and burned some 1,100 homes.
The latest fire has blackened 23 square miles (60 square kilometers), prompting mandatory evacuations. It was moving rapidly but was still far from any large towns.
Officials from a number of agencies will meet Thursday to determine if they can reopen the highway, a key route for commercial trucks.
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