Dozens of cars set ablaze as wildfire jumps California freeway

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HESPERIA, Calif.– Several cars and trucks in a long line of abandoned vehicles on a California freeway caught fire as flames from a brush fire jumped the highway Friday.

There were no reports of injuries, said Steve Carapia of the California Highway Patrol. He estimated there were up to 70 cars, trucks and tractor-trailers on I-15 northbound near San Bernardino.

Twenty vehicles were destroyed and 10 were damaged, San Bernardino County Fire said on its Twitter feed.

Five homes were burned and about 50 more buildings were threatened, the department said.

However, Josh Wilkins with the county Fire Department described the blaze as a "multi-casualty incident," reports PIX 11 sister station KTLA.

The huge blaze scorched both sides of the highway, trapping the cars in between.  As many as 60 to 70 vehicles were left abandoned on the roadway.

Initially, firefighting efforts from the air were hampered by drones that caused the San Bernardino Fire Department to ground its helicopters, according to their Twitter account.  Helicopters eventually started trying to extinguish the fire from the air, dropping thousands of gallons of water.

 

Driven by strong wind, the massive blaze grew from about 30 acres at 3 p.m. to 500 acres by 3:45 p.m., according to tweets by the San Bernardino National Forest's Twitter account.

As the brush fire spreads, officials sought to evacuate all populated areas in its path, such as Baldy Creek, and ten fire engines were sent to Phelan for potential structure protection.

The 15 Freeway connects the Los Angeles basin to Las Vegas, and is usually packed during the Friday rush hour.