Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


20 vehicles destroyed in California wildfire

18 July 2015, 11:47

Hesperia, California — A fast-moving wildfire swept across a freeway Friday in a California mountain pass, destroying 20 vehicles and sending motorists running to safety before it burned at least five homes. There were no reports of serious injuries, authorities said.

Fanned by hot desert winds, the fire started along Interstate 15 -- the main highway between Southern California and Las Vegas -- and spread quickly.

Dozens of vehicles were abandoned and hundreds of others turned onto side roads to get away from the flames as water-dropping helicopters flew over the Cajon Pass area about 55 miles (88 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles.

Motorists stuck on the road described a harrowing scene.

"It's crazy, you're watching black clouds and white clouds of smoke, there's a ridgeline off to my right ... and it looks like any second flames will come over the ridgeline," Chris Patterson, 43, said from his vehicle.

It's not uncommon for wildfires to reach freeways in California. It was unclear, however, why dozens of cars were caught along Interstate 15, forcing frightened people to flee on foot.

U.S. Forest Service spokesman Uriah Hernandez said no injuries had been confirmed.

The agency said the fire had burned at least 3, 500 acres and was threatening the rural community of Baldy Mesa.

San Bernardino County Fire officials said at least five homes were burned and another 50 were threatened by the flames. An additional 10 cars on the freeway were damaged by the fire.

Melissa Atalla said she could see the flames from her gas station in Baldy Mesa.

"People are spectating from our parking lot, running around getting water and beer. It's chaos," Atalla said. "One man came in and said, 'Oh my, my house is getting burned.'"

The fire led authorities to shut several freeway lanes, causing traffic to back up for miles. California Highway Patrol spokesman Steve Carapia said 50 to 75 vehicles were left abandoned on the freeway.

Raquel Martinez, 34, was traveling to Las Vegas with her husband for the weekend when they got stuck in northbound traffic on the I-15 for about an hour.

The sky darkened to black. As they drove by, cars were covered in "pink powder" — or fire retardant. Cars meanwhile were being redirected up narrow twisty emergency lanes from the southbound side headed north.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Apologise for attack on Auditor G...

Apologise for attack on Auditor General, President Uhuru Kenyatta is told by Kisumu Senator Anyang Nyong'o. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Quit if you can't fight corruptio...

An MP has told President Uhuru Kenyatta to quit office if he cannot fight corruption. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Investigate Uhuru, Ruto for corru...

Investigate President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto's offices over corruption, CORD leader Raila Odinga has said. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Its a 1 horse race to State House...

Its a 1 horse race to State House, DP William Ruto has mocked the CORD Coalition. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Enjoy your time left in power, We...

CORD Co Principal Moses Wetangu'la has told the Jubilee Coalition to enjoy its last few months in power before it is voted out in the 2017 elections. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Stop hiding in State House and sa...

ODM MP's have called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to release drought aid and to stop sitting on public funds. Read more...