San Diego: Wildfire forces closure of I-15 Freeway

UPDATE: 11/13/2016 2:10 p.m.

Cal Fire/San Diego County Fire officials announced the northbound lanes of traffic on I-15 had been reopened. Southbound lanes of traffic remain closed until further notice.

 

Thick smoke and flames could be seen as motorists stopped and tried to extinguish the blaze using blankets and shovels. Eric Leaman photo
Thick smoke and flames could be seen as motorists stopped and tried to extinguish the blaze using blankets and shovels. Eric Leaman photo

SAN DIEGO COUNTY — A fire near I-15 and Gopher Canyon Road has shut down all lanes of southbound and northbound traffic in North County. The fire has already burned more than 10 acres, according to Cal Fire San Diego. Old Highway 395 was also closed in both directions in the area of the fire.

Officials report five homes are currently threatened by the blaze, which has been dubbed the #GopherFire.

The fire was first reported to California Highway Patrol at 11:02 a.m. Several 911 callers reported a small brush fire burning along the west side of the southbound lanes of the freeway, just south of Gopher Canyon and Champagne Boulevard.

Callers told dispatchers several motorists had pulled over and were attempting to extinguish the growing blaze using blankets and shovels; however, the flames were growing and starting to climb the hillside.

Smoke from the fire was visible for miles. Eric Leaman photo
Smoke from the fire was visible for miles. Eric Leaman photo

By 11:14 a.m., 911 callers told emergency dispatchers the fire was growing rapidly and that in spite of their efforts, the fire had grown to four separate fires and was continuing to spread at a growing pace. The fire had also jumped from the south side of Gopher Canyon to the north side of the Gopher Canyon exit.

The first firefighters arrived in the area of the fire at 11:24 a.m., just over 20 minutes after the fire was reported. On scene fire personnel immediately requested extra assistance from CHP.

Firefighters called for the closure of the number four lane of traffic on the southbound side of the freeway just before 11:30 a.m., to give fire personnel more room to work while battling the growing blaze. Minutes later callers and firefighters reported the fire had jumped to the east side of the freeway, as the blaze grew in intensity.

By noon, all southbound lanes of traffic on I-15 had been shut down and firefighters were calling for the closure of northbound lanes of traffic.

At 12:30 p.m., CHP reported having three helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft assisting with the fire. Motorists who had been stuck on the freeway had begun to turn around and were seen traveling the wrong way on the freeway as they attempted to get away from the growing fire.

CHP officials announced a SIGALERT had been activated about 12:40 p.m., and that all northbound and southbound lanes of traffic had been closed indefinitely.

 

This is a developing story. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

One Response to "San Diego: Wildfire forces closure of I-15 Freeway"

  1. Ann Brooks   November 13, 2016 at 3:01 pm

    Oh no! Lots of brush! Wish everyone a safe drive and control quickly!

    Reply

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