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Motorist describes tense scene as fire sweeps I-15

September 2, 2011 |  4:08 pm

(Photo courtesy viewer Sandra)

Drivers trying to get through the Cajon Pass on Friday afternoon as a brush fire raged said it was slow going and a bit chaotic.

Michael O'Connor, also known as DJ 4Tify, said he became stuck in traffic while driving from Los Angeles to Arizona, where he's DJing at a back-to-school party for students at Northern Arizona University.

"The traffic is just stopped," O'Connor said. "There was a whole smoke cloud in front of us. And there's been probably 40 to 50 firetrucks that have driven by in the emergency lane; different kinds of trucks -- SUVs, firetrucks, buses, all that."

O'Connor said he also saw three motorists driving backward in the emergency lane.

But he said he planned on sticking it out. He was approaching Interstate 40 and could spot a police escort ahead.

Three northbound I-15 lanes have reopened. The fire has scorched more than 500 acres and prompted the evacuation of several San Bernardino County neighborhoods.

Holiday weekend traffic is being escorted by the California Highway Patrol, said Terry Kasinga, a Caltrans spokeswoman. In Fontana, some vehicles are backing up on the shoulder to get off the freeway, she said, but traffic is slowly moving.

But southbound lanes of the freeway --  which are coated by fire retardant dropped by air crews -- are expected to remain closed for an extended period between Highway 138 and Highway 395, Kasinga said.

"The party is not till tomorrow night, so I'm good," he said.

He tweeted: "I wish I could buy me a spaceship and fly!!!!"


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-- Kimi Yoshino

Photo: A driver catches the scene of the fire from the roadside. Credit: KTLA News