Fire closes I-5; now reopened

A brush fire erupted alongside Interstate 5 in the Camp Pendleton area today, forcing the complete closure of the freeway, authorities reported.

I-5 has reopened in the Camp Pendleton area following a several-hour closure prompted by a nearby brush fire, according to the California Highway Patrol. Traffic is flowing freely again in both directions, a CHP spokesman says.

The blaze - the third to break out on the grounds of the Oceanside-area Marine Corps base in less than 24 hours - began spreading near Las Pulgas Road shortly before 10:30 a.m., according to the California Highway Patrol.

As the flames spread rapidly to the west, the CHP shut down a stretch of I-5 between Harbor Drive in Oceanside and Cristianitos Road at the Orange County border, officials said.

Motorists were diverted onto surface streets and, at times, directed to turn around through center medians, according to the Highway Patrol.

Ground and airborne personnel had the fire under control by early afternoon, but as of 12:45 p.m., the freeway remained closed in the area while crews doused hot spots, CHP public information Officer Ray Scheidnes.

The cause of the roughly 12-acre blaze was unclear, though witnesses reported seeing a suspicious-looking pedestrian in the area just before the flames began spreading, according to the CHP.

On Monday afternoon, several fires erupted in the southeast reaches of Camp Pendleton, prompting the evacuation of thousands of area residents. By this morning, the flames had scorched about 3,000 acres but had caused no reported structural damage or injuries.

   
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