The Blue Cut wildfire, which began around 10:30 a.m. PDT Tuesday, continued to burn steadily throughout Wednesday and firefighters expect it to continue intensely burning through the night on Thursday. Red-flag conditions remain in effect for San Bernardino County, until 9 p.m. Thursday, with gusty winds and low humidity continuing to spur the fire. At last report, Wednesday evening, firefighters were able to state four percent containment and reopen Interstate 15 northbound (as of Thursday evening containment had reached 22 percent).
The wildfire continues to heavily impact the shipping industry; the southbound portion of Interstate 15, the main route between Las Vegas and Southern California, was indefinitely closed at noon on Tuesday, August 16 (Interstate 15 southbound reopened at 10:45 a.m. PDT on Thursday – traffic may flow through the pass, but not to exit). In addition, for much of Tuesday, the north-south railroad lines for Union Pacific Railroad and BNSF Railway through the Cajon Pass were shut down, delaying the distribution of cargo. Fire officials stated on Wednesday evening that some rail lines were able to resume activity – the reopened lines belong to BNSF. An additional line, belonging to Union Pacific, was reported to have sustained significant damage to a bridge and will remain closed.
For BNSF, track outages have impacted traffic to and from the Southern California On-Dock (SCOD), Los Angeles and San Bernardino facilities. Main Tracks 2 and 3 resumed services at 5:50 p.m. PDT on Wednesday, August 17, while Main Track 1 remains out of service indefinitely. Customers utilizing BNSF may experience delays of 36 to 48 hours on shipments moving through this corridor.
At the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the closure of Interstate 15 and impaired rail service have contributed to significant cargo congestion; within the ports terminals, container ships are being unloaded with nowhere for the cargo to go. Michael Gold, spokesman for the Port of Long Beach, stated that “for now, the congestion is manageable. [However,] it’s unclear when all of the rails lines through the region will be fully operational.”
Though firefighters are slowly making progress on California’s Blue Cut Fire, it continues to burn intensely. There are more than 1,000 firefighters from across California working to contain the blaze. Deringer will continue to monitor the situation in Southern California and report on impacts to shipping activity. Please send an email to Deringer’s Marketing Department with any questions.