Motorists Recall Terrifying Moments As Fire Torched Cars - NBC Southern California

Motorists Recall Terrifying Moments As Fire Torched Cars

Cars were torched as a dangerous, fast-moving brush fire jumped the 15 Freeway in the Cajon Pass.



    Cajon Pass Fire Torches Cars on the 15 Freeway

    A brush fire jumped the 15 Freeway in the Cajon Pass and grew to 3,500 acres, lighting cars on fire, burning homes, Friday afternoon. Tony Shin reports for the NBC4 News at 11 on Friday, July 17, 2015. (Published Saturday, July 18, 2015)

    Motorists experienced terrifying, surreal moments when a fast-moving brush fire jumped the freeway along a busy stretch between Los Angeles and Las Vegas Friday, lighting cars on fire as stranded drivers and passengers were forced to flee on foot.

    In what looked like a scene from a Hollywood movie, drivers were forced to abandon their vehicles and run from the encroaching fire.

    Flames engulfed at least 20 cars and damaged about 10 other cars. A big rig transporting several cars also caught fire.

    Many drivers ran to safety and watched from a distance as their vehicles burned while gusting winds fanned the flames across the southbound lanes of the 15 Freeway.

    One driver came close to the flames as he was leaving his truck behind.

    "I saw the flames, grabbed my water and my bag and the flames were already in the truck," said Igor Gusar.

    Gusar said he was just sitting in his truck when the firestorm engulfed the freeway and he was forced to run for his life. His vehicle was destroyed.

    "I'm out of work, now I lost my truck," he said.

    Art Santos and family also ran for their lives.

    "It just spread like quick," Santos said.

    Santos' family was lucky - when they returned to their car hours later, they found it melted, but still drivable.

    "The car was pretty much on the outside edge of when the fire hit it," Santos said.

    CHP officers said they could do little more than try to contain the panic.

    "It was just too chaotic, and we have to make sure there are certain safety checks in place before we turn vehicles around on the freeway," said Officer John Antillon.

    As of early Saturday morning, scorched cars had been towed and all but one lane of the freeway reopened.

    Many of the drivers caught in the fire said they were just thankful to be OK.

    "I praise God," said motorist Josh Irving. "Absolutely."

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