Watch as wildfire overruns packed California freeway, burns cars.

Watch as Wildfire Overruns Packed California Freeway, Burns Cars

Watch as Wildfire Overruns Packed California Freeway, Burns Cars

The Slatest
Your News Companion
July 18 2015 11:29 AM

Watch as Wildfire Overruns Packed California Freeway, Burns Cars

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The scorched remains of a truck are towed at the north fire, which caused people to abandon their vehicles near Victorville, California.

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

A fast-moving fire in Southern California overran a packed freeway on Friday, setting fire to 20 vehicles as panicked drivers scrambled for safety. As motorists looked on helplessly while their cars were engulfed by flames some 1,000 firefighters battled the North Fire with 22 fire engines, four water trucks, a bulldozer, seven airplanes, and three helicopters, reports CNN.

“In a region where brush fires are a way of life, the scene on the main route to Las Vegas was surreal,” notes the Los Angeles Times. Around 60 to 70 cars were abandoned, which then made it more difficult for emergency responders to access the area. “I've never seen anything like this before,” California Highway Patrol Officer Steve Carapia said.

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Efforts to battle the blaze were delayed because of drones flying in the area. It was the fourth time in as many weeks that drones prevented firefighting efforts in Southern California, reports ABC News. "As soon as we see drones, we shut down all of our aircraft for the safety reasons," U.S. Forest Service spokesman Lee Beyer said. “If a drone got sucked into a wing or a propeller, that could have some serious impacts.”

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the Today’s Papers column from 2006 to 2009. Follow him on Twitter.