Fires keep California highway closed

SHASTA-TRINITY NATIONAL FOREST, Calif. (AP) — Interstate 5 usually swarms with trucks and traffic as it winds its way through California.

But the main highway between Mexico and Canada was a ghost road Friday morning along a 45-mile (72-kilometer) northern stretch that remained closed since a fire two days earlier swept down and turned hills on either side into walls of flame.

Drivers fled in terror and several big-rigs burned Wednesday as the fire erupted on both sides of the artery. Crews managed to remove the burned hulks and abandoned rigs on Thursday but flames continued to burn along an edge of the road in some areas, fire spokesman Brandon Vacarro said.

A decision was expected Friday on whether to reopen the highway but first authorities had to check the safety of the pavement and cut down burned trees next to the road — some of them 70 feet (20 meters) tall — that might be in danger of falling down.