A fire near Castaic closed the 5 Freeway amid triple-digit heat

A wildfire near Castaic erupted Wednesday, prompting mandatory evacuations and closing all lanes of the 5 Freeway in Southern California under triple-digit temperatures.

The Root Fire, which was first reported shortly after noon on a freeway near Lake Hughes Road, has grown to 4,625 acres and is 0% contained, officials with the LA County Fire Department said during a news conference Wednesday night.

About 250 county firefighters along with 115 U.S. Forest Service firefighters, eight air tankers and seven helicopters were assigned to fight the blaze, said LA County Fire Inspector Craig Little.

5 was closed in both directions, said Lauren Wonder, spokeswoman for California Department of Transportation District 7. Northbound traffic was diverted to Lake Hughes Road and southbound traffic was diverted to Vista del Lago Road.

Drivers traveling through the area should take Highway 14 through the Antelope Valley, Wonder said. Other alternatives include taking Highway 126 through Ventura County to the 101 Freeway.

No structures were threatened Wednesday night, LA County Fire Capt. Sheila Kelliher said.

Crews battled hot, dry and windy conditions on the first day, prompting heavy fire evacuations. A brutal week of heat wave.

By Wednesday night, evacuations south of Northlake Hills Elementary School had been lifted, the LA County Sheriff’s Department said. Evacuation orders were in place north of the school, south of Templin Highway — including the Paradise Ranch Estates mobile home park — east of 5 and west of Castaic Lagoon.

Northlake Hills Elementary School, located between 5th and Ridge Route Road, was evacuated early Wednesday; The Sheriff’s Department said all Northlake Hills staff and students are safe. In a message posted on Twitter, the principal of the school said the campus will be closed on Thursday.

Between 100 and 200 homes have been evacuated so far, sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Barclay said.

Eight firefighters, six of whom were taken to the hospital, suffered minor to moderate heat-related injuries, Little said.

The fire is fueled by dry fuel from years of drought, he said.

Temperatures in the region reached 110 degrees in the afternoon with 12% humidity, according to the National Weather Service.

Footage from KTLA-TV Channel 5 showed flames on both sides of the southbound lanes with smoke billowing from the rolling, dry hills. The southern and northern lanes are separated by a large hill.

A large tanker was seen dousing the fire along the fire line.

About two hours after the Root Fire, a fast-moving fire was reported near the U.S.-Mexico border in eastern San Diego County.

The fire broke out on Wednesday night Grown over 1,600 acresIt destroyed at least four structures, including at least one house, and threatened others.

Call Fire San Diego Capt. Thomas Schutz said there were “several close calls” as residents rushed to evacuate their homes, but no injuries were reported.

“We got a lot of 911 calls from people who couldn’t get out” because their homes were engulfed in flames, Schutz said.

More than 200 firefighters were battling the blaze as of 5:30 p.m., and “many more” were on the way, Schutz said. Six air tankers, seven helicopters and several fixed-wing aircraft were deployed, although none were night-flying.

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“We’ve requested every wildland engine from Cal Fire in San Diego County,” Schutz said.

The fire led authorities to close the US-Mexico border crossing at Tecate, and State Route 94 was closed mainly from Campo to Tulsura. By dusk, the fire to the east continued to rage and the fire was not contained.

San Diego Union-Tribune staff writer Alex Riggins contributed to this report.

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