Intense Wildfire Smoke Closes Schools in California's I-5 Delta Fire Region

Delta Fire
A firefighter stops for water on September 6 as backfire flames roar through brush and trees during the Delta Fire in Pollard Flat, California, in the Shasta Trinity National Forest. JOSH EDELSON/AFP/Getty Images

As California's Interstate 5 wildfire, known as the Delta Fire, burned another day, air quality in the region deteriorated to the point that many schools canceled classes for students' safety. Schools throughout Shasta County, where the I-5 Delta fire started Wednesday and continued burning Friday without containment, were closed.

Air quality in the region was extremely poor Friday, with readings along the I-5 corridor around Shasta County and beyond reaching "very unhealthy" levels as high as 230. The government says air quality levels above 201 can "trigger a health alert signifying that everyone may experience more serious health effects."

The Delta Fire was 0 percent contained Friday morning, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. It has burned more than 24,000 acres. Smoke from the fire has cut air-quality levels in areas including Redding, Weed, Mount Shasta, McCloud and Yreka to between 165 and 230. Levels above 150 are considered unhealthy.

California schools closing due to wildfire smoke include Shasta High School, Enterprise High School, University Preparatory School, Pioneer Continuation High School, Freedom Community Day School, Redding Elementary School District and the Gateway School District.

"The main concern of the Enterprise Elementary School District is first and foremost the safety and well-being of students and staff. We understand that the air quality is poor and there are concerns of possible health-related effects," said an email from the Enterprise Elementary School District on Friday morning, according to KRCTV.com.

You can see wildfire smoke levels updates here.

I-5, typically a busy thoroughfare running north to south in California, remained closed Friday along a 45-mile stretch in the north due to the wildfires that violently erupted in the area on Wednesday.

"Drivers fled in terror and several big rigs burned Wednesday as the fire erupted on both sides of the artery," the AP reported. "Crews managed to remove the burned hulks and abandoned rigs on Thursday, but flames continued to burn along an edge of the road in some areas."

Officials are expected to determine today if I-5 can be opened back up, "but first authorities had to check the safety of the pavement and cut down burned trees next to the road—some of them 70 feet (20 meters) tall—that might be in danger of falling down," the AP reported.

Some areas in the I-5 corridor have faced mandatory evacuations. It is the same region where the Carr Fire killed eight people earlier this summer, "destroying more than 1,000 homes and consuming 229,651 acres," according to CNN.

Intense Wildfire Smoke Closes Schools in California's I-5 Delta Fire Region | U.S.