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US wildfire reaches Interstate 5 near Los Angeles

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I-5 shield

A California wildfire has reached Interstate 5, just 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

The fire has burned 400 acres of grassland in the Angeles National Forest, and continues to blaze in the Pyramid Lake area.

According to the forest spokeswoman Dee Dechert, the fire is 50 percent contained, but it has damaged Southern California Edison power lines, causing traffic jams. The two right northbound lanes on Interstate 5 had to be shut down, backing up traffic for several miles; they were still closed Tuesday morning. However, no homes or other structures are at risk.

As of 7 pm local time on Tuesday, 500 people, mostly from Los Angeles County Fire Department, were working to contain the fire in heat that exceeded 100 ℉ (38 ℃). According to authorities, four helicopters and six air tankers were also on the scene to control the flames, which are being pushed northeast by a 5 miles (8 km) per hour wind.

The wildfire began around noon on Monday, just northwest of Castaic near the Golden State Freeway. The cause is not currently known, but it is expected to be 100 percent contained by 6 pm on Tuesday.

The only injury reported so far occurred when a firefighter was stung by a bee.

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