Fast-burning fire prompts evacuations, closes freeway near Gorman

A fast-moving wildfire that started Saturday afternoon on Interstate 5 near Grapevine charted a path south and was moving toward the town of Castaic by nightfall. Strong overnight winds in the Tejon Pass threatened to expand the fire’s trail, officials said.

The Post Fire, moving parallel to I-5, had expanded to more than 10,000 acres by late Saturday. According to CalFire. An evacuation order was in effect from Gorman south to Pyramid Lake.

“Firefighters are working to establish perimeter fire lines around the scales of the fire,” according to an incident update posted at 8 p.m. “The aircraft is working to stop forward progress, but visibility is limited.”

I-5 was closed for a short time Saturday at Quail Lake and Gorman Post Road, causing traffic congestion, with some accidents reportedly caused by drivers stopping to photograph the flames.

By 2 p.m. Saturday the fire had grown rapidly beyond 500 acres, threatening structures south and west of I-5. The Los Angeles County Fire Department responded quickly, conducting airstrikes with air tankers and water-dropping helicopters. The Ventura County Fire Department and the US Forest Service are assisting in the effort. By late Saturday, 70 machines and 300 personnel were engaged in combat.

Firefighters face challenging conditions: The National Weather Service predicts winds will pick up Saturday night, with ridgetop gusts expected to hit 60 mph.

The fire, which started as a brush fire south of Ralphs Ranch Road, jumped the road and reportedly burned an auto repair shop. As the fire pressed toward Hungry Valley, park officials evacuated 1,200 people from Hungry Valley State Motorway Recreation Area and closed access to Pyramid Lake. Social media feeds captured the exodus of motor homes trailing ATVs from campgrounds crowded with groups celebrating Father’s Day weekend.

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As of Saturday night, thick smoke billowed over I-5, and officials were reporting 0% containment.

The fire broke out as experts worked to gauge the potential severity of this year’s fire season. A wet winter has fostered a heavy fuel load of thick grasses, which dry out as temperatures rise. Earlier this month, a wind-driven wildfire in San Joaquin County south of Tracy burned more than 14,000 acres.

LA County Fire Department crews battle a post fire a day after one of their colleagues was killed and another injured while responding to a quarry fire in the Antelope Valley.

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