Report: California wildfires prompt closing of Interstate 5

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Interstate 5, the main artery between San Diego and Los Angeles, was closed in both directions early today, Oct. 24, along a stretch of the freeway north of Oceanside at Camp Pendleton because of heavy smoke from an operation to contain a wildfire on the Marine base, a base spokesman told CNN.

More San Diego County residents faced orders to leave their homes early today as wildfires threatened new areas of charred, smoke-choked Southern California, according to the news channel. The National Weather Service said a red-flag warning for extreme gusty winds was in effect for San Diego through 6 p.m. PT (9 p.m. ET) today, but forecasters said firefighters should see an end to the Santa Ana winds that have fueled the fires by Thursday, Oct. 25.

More than 20 fires have scorched 400,000-plus acres from the Mexican border to northern Los Angeles County and inland into the San Bernardino Mountains since the weekend, CNN reported. The blazes have killed one person and injured at least 70 more, and 34 firefighters have been hurt, authorities told the news channel. About 7,000 firefighters were battling the blazes, including 2,300 inmates from California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told CNN.