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1,500-acre fire rages next to California interstate

Fire engulfs a hillside near Interstate 15 in California on Wednesday.
Fire engulfs a hillside near Interstate 15 in California on Wednesday.  

CAJON PASS, California (CNN) -- Hundreds of firefighters worked into the early hours of Thursday battling a ring of fire that engulfed an area next to Interstate 15 in southern California, the U.S. Forest Service said.

The fire consumed at least 1,500 acres several hours after it began shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday (7 p.m. ET). The blaze shrouded the region in smoke and forced officials to shut down part of I-15, which runs through Cajon Pass about 20 miles north of San Bernardino.

So far, three homes and two out-buildings have been lost, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The blaze started when a car caught fire on the side of the freeway and spread into vegetation on the northbound side of I-15.

In one area, the fire burned right at the edge of the interstate. Cars and semi-trailers that were traveling northbound before it was closed off stopped in the road and quickly reversed course as the fire raged nearby.

Four air tankers and four water-dropping helicopters worked to control the blaze along with the firefighters on the ground, according to the Forest Service.

Officials with the California Highway Patrol said the nearby Swarthout Canyon area was ordered to evacuate.

Nearly 460,000 electricity customers lost power when heavy smoke caused a transmission line to automatically shut down.




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