UPDATE (9:19 a.m. PT) — Interstate 5 partially reopened to traffic Monday morning as fire officials continue to battle the growing Delta Fire. California’s transit agency says one lane is open in each direction over a 17-mile stretch. The stretch of highway between Redding and Mount Shasta had been closed since Wednesday, Sept. 5. Drivers are warned to expect lengthy delays.
Sunday, heavy smoke helped keep a damper on the Delta Fire. It grew by less than 500 acres by the end of the day. It’s at just shy of 41,000 acres and is still at 5 percent containment as of Monday morning.
Interstate 5 remains closed until further notice, with no anticipated re-opening time.
Weather conditions cleared Sunday afternoon and the fire got more active. The fire is moving mostly toward the southwest – toward the Carr Fire. It’s also moving toward the north/northwest, toward Trinity Lake.
The Delta Fire is burning between the Carr Fire — which has been 100 percent contained for a couple of weeks now — and the Hirz Fire, which has been burning north of Shasta Lake and is 95 percent contained.
One of the fire managers’ main strategies is to use old containment lines that were built for the Carr and Hirz fires to funnel the Delta Fire’s east and south sides into the already-burned perimeters of the two older fires, using those burned areas to contain the Delta Fire. On the east side, at least, that seems to be working. The Delta Fire has been joined with the Hirz Fire on a growing part of the Delta Fire’s east side.
Evacuations are still in place in Shasta County, mostly along the I-5 corridor, and in Trinity County as the fire moves in that direction. There have been reports of some homes lost, but there’s been no official count as of Monday morning. No casualties have been reported.
The fires are making for bad air quality in that area. Redding and Dunsmuir have air rated “Unhealthy” Monday morning. Lakehead – which is right in the middle of it — has air rated "Hazardous."
The latest word from CalTrans is that I-5 will remain closed until further notice. There had been talk of opening it over the weekend, but that’s been put on hold until the 45-mile stretch between about 10 miles north of Redding to just south of Mount Shasta has been made safe for traffic. For one thing, there’s still active fire in places near the highway. There’s also been a lot of damage to signs, guardrails, fences and, in places, to the road itself. There’s also a lot of concern about tall trees that have been weakened by the fire and could fall across the highway.
There’s no indication at this point when I-5 might open. For the time being, traffic will continue to be detoured onto State Highways 89 and 299.