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'I just grabbed my kids and ran': People abandon cars and flee fire on California highway

The fire spread from the mountains on to the interstate trapping literally hundreds of people amid a cauldron of smoke, flames and ash.

Source: World@BBC A to Z news/YouTube

“PEOPLE WERE SCREAMING. It was just crazy,” said Allevato, who watched helplessly yesteray afternoon as flames engulfed his rental car and destroyed everything inside it while he, his nephew and two teenage daughters fled to safety.

The fire in the winding, mountainous Cajon Pass 55 miles north east of Los Angeles began about 2.30pm yesterday in drought-ravaged dry grass below the elevated lanes of Interstate 15.

Pushed by 40-mph winds, it raced up a hill and onto the traffic-clogged freeway, trapping literally hundreds of people amid a cauldron of smoke, flames and ash.

California Wildfire Source: AP

Russell Allevato and his family ran for their lives from the raging brushfire that had trapped them and hundreds of other terrified people on a traffic-jammed highway connecting Los Angeles to Las Vegas.

“We were surrounded by the flames. They were to the left, then in front of us and they came around to the right. We were in a big horseshoe in the middle,” he said as he spoke by phone from the safety of a California Highway Patrol vehicle.

APTOPIX California Wildfire Source: AP

“We had some highway patrolmen who said they had never seen fire travel that fast,” said Greg Kieran, a San Bernardino County Fire Hazmat specialist.

“It just overran these people before they even knew what hit them.”

Drivers and their passengers had no choice but to abandon their cars as the flames hopscotched down the freeway, destroying 20 vehicles, several of which exploded in fireballs.

California Wildfire Source: AP

Four structures in the nearby rural community of Baldy Mesa also burned as the flames raced across 3,500 acres. The blaze was only 5% contained early this morning.

Amazingly, only two people were injured. Both suffered minor smoke inhalation, authorities said, but declined medical attention.

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