CAJON PASS, CA - A dangerous, fast-moving wildfire spread through the Cajon Pass on Friday afternoon, jumping the 15 Freeway, burning at least 10 vehicles stopped on the pavement, and prompting mandatory evacuations in the Baldy Mesa area.
The fire started about 2:30 p.m. off the freeway just north of State Route 138 (map), prompting the closure of all southbound and northbound lanes of the 15 Freeway soon after. Responding fire crews were stuck in traffic, authorities said.
The North Fire was at 500 acres about 3:45 p.m., and firefighting aircraft were temporarily grounded due to drone activity, the San Bernardino County Fire Department stated on Twitter. Within an hour, it was 2,000 acres.
Several vehicles stopped on the freeway were burning, aerial video from Sky5 showed. It was not clear if anyone was injured, and firefighters arrived on the tarmac just before 4 p.m.
“Currently we have not only a multi-casualty incident, but a large wildfire threatening structures,” Josh Wilkins with the county Fire Department aid.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered for Baldy Mesa area east of Sheep Creek Road, north and west of the 15 Freeway, and south of Phelan Road.
Hundreds of crews were headed to structures that were threatened in Baldy Mesa, Oak Hills and Phelan areas, Wilkins said.
The blaze began as a vegetation fire and spread rapidly toward the Oak Hills area by 40 to 45 mph winds, according to Wilkins.
At least 10 vehicles had burned, Wilkins said shortly after 4 p.m. It was not clear how many people were injured, he said.
Caltrans District 8 said the fire was burning in the median just north of State Route 138. Lanes were closed at Oak Hill Road, according to Caltrans.
The 15 Freeway is the main route from the Los Angeles basin to Las Vegas and is heavily traveled at Friday rush hour. The area burning is about 45 miles east-northeast of downtown Los Angeles in a pass that separates the San Bernardino and San Gabriel mountain ranges.