SHASTA-TRINITY NATIONAL FOREST (CBS SF/AP) — One lane in each direction of the major freeway connecting Canada to Mexico reopened early Monday after being shutdown for six days by a raging wildfire.
California transportation officials said the lanes on I-5 were reopened at 8:30 a.m. for approximately 17 miles of freeway between Antlers Bridge in Lakehead and Flume Creek Road south of Dunsmuir.
The other lanes would remain closed as officials examined fire-damaged trees — some 70-foot tall — along the route to make sure they do not tumbled onto the freeway.
California Department of Transportation spokeswoman Denise Yergenson also said vehicles carrying potential flammable materials — including hay, wood chips, lumber, logs — were still being prohibited from using the freeway.
The stretch of highway was closed Wednesday as flames flanked the roadway and left the roadway littered with burnt and abandoned trucks.
“Motorists should anticipate long lines of vehicles and long delays,” Yergenson said.
Drivers for RLT Trucking have been making making deliveries by taking two-lane mountain roads with bumper-to-bumper traffic that added hours to their trips, company president Al Shufelberger said.
About 140 truckers haul cargo for the company based in Redding, south of the blaze.
He said only one customer demanded to know why a shipment wasn’t coming on time.
“We just sent him articles from our local newspaper about the fire. He said, ‘Sorry, do what you can,'” Shufelberger told the Associated Press.
State officials said the fire had grown to 40,903 acres by Monday morning and was just 5 percent contained. Nearly 2,400 firefighters have been battling the blaze burning in timber and brush and have been aided by specially equipped DC-10s, helicopters and a firefighting train provided by Southern Pacific.
No building have been damaged, but evacuation remain in place in the sparsely populated wilderness region.