North Fire: 44 Vehicles, 3 Homes Burned In Cajon Pass

(FOX 11/CNS) A rapid-moving vegetation fire broke out Friday afternoon in the Cajon Pass, burning several vehicles stopped on the I-15 Freeway and forcing mandatory evacuations in the area.

The blaze, dubbed "North Fire" on social media, was reported at about 2:30 p.m. Friday on the downhill side of the 15 Freeway, approaching the Route 138 interchange. It had spread to about 3,500 acres and was 5 percent contained by Saturday, fire officials said.

Flames jumped from the side of the freeway into the quarter-mile-wide median, both laden with heavy, drought-baked brush.

Two large trucks and 18 cars were burned, but no one was hurt, CHP officers said. Drivers had to leave their vehicles and walk along the 15 Freeway to escape the fire.

Approximately 70 to 80 vehicles were abandoned on the freeway, the California Highway Patrol said.

Five amateur drones were spotted near the fire in the first hours, firefighters said, briefly delaying helicopters and and airplanes from saving property and potentially lives, said Calfire Capt. Richard cardova.

RELATED: Drone Halts Air Drops Over San Bernardino County Brush Fire

"This is a major problem for us,'' he told a Los Angeles TV station. "It hampers our attack on the fire, and that causes a major problem.''

As of 8 a.m. Saturday, flames were moving to the northwest, away from the freeway but towards scattered ranches and rural homes in the Baldy Mesa area, along Route 138 north of Wrightwood.

The fire was 5 percent contained at sunrise, and three homes, eight outbuildings and 44 vehicles have been destroyed so far.

Mandatory evacuations were put in place east of Sheep Creek Road, north of Highway 138, west of Interstate 15 and U.S. 395, and south of Phelan Road.

An evacuation center was established at Serrano High School, 9292 Sheep Creek Road, in Phelan. Large and small animals can be taken to the Victor Valley Fairgrounds, 14800 7th St., in Victorville.

The fire attack includes 1,000 firefighters from the San Bernardino County Fire Department and Calfire utilizing four water tenders, a bulldozer, an air attack airplane, three helicopters and six fixed-wing tankers.

Air in extreme eastern Los Angeles County, Wrightwood and the Victor Valley was choked with smoke from the North Fire in Cajon Pass, and another blaze, called the Pine Fire, west of Mountain High Ski Area.

The fire led authorities to shut several freeway lanes, causing traffic to back up for miles on the main route from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

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