CASTAIC (CBSLA) - The hillsides along the 5 Freeway remained under a blanket of flames as the sun set.
After sparking just before 4 p.m., the blaze, dubbed the Route Fire, steadily grew to 400 acres, near where the 5 meets the Templin Highway, north of Castaic.
Crews from LA County Fire and the US Forest Service launched their primary response from the sky, spotters leading tankers ahead of the flames to drop retardant and stop the spread, as super-scoopers made loops of water drops onto the persistent brush fire.
"The thing that was really challenging was that the fire immediately spotted across the freeway. So, now we had a fire on both sides of I-5 and we had to ask CHP to shut the highway down in both directions, and basically we're fighting two fires," US Forest Service spokesman John Miller said.
Almost caught in the middle, residents in Paradise Ranch Estates, a neighborhood that sits just below the 5 Freeway, were under an evacuation watch. They packed up and got ready to go as the fire raged close by.
"It is extremely disconcerting. I do not like that at all. What's bothering me, as well as all these firefighters are doing, I don't see them focusing a whole lot of attention over there until just 20 minutes ago," a man identified only as Jason, who lives in the area, said. "Yeah, it's scary.
Residents in Paradise Ranch Estates have so far not been asked to evacuate. Miller also there were no real threats to structures otherwise.
Two firefighters did sustain minor injuries, according to officials.
The Angeles National Forest Service tweeted, "...Per the Incident Commander, we are making good progress on the fire due to an aggressive aerial and ground attack. Overnight, two helicopters from [LA County Fire Department] and one from Angeles [National Forest] will be making drops throughout the evening."
Traffic along the 5 Freeway is backed up. The California Department of Transportation reports that two lanes in each direction are now open. They are asking motorists to drive carefully for first responders and, if possible, avoid the area entirely.
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