Portion of major highway reopens as California wildfire rages

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Blue Cut fire rages on in Southern California

(Reuters) - A portion of a major highway connecting Los Angeles and Las Vegas has been reopened, as a wildfire that forced the evacuation of some 80,000 Southern California residents continued to rage virtually unchecked.

The so-called Blue Cut Fire erupted on Tuesday in the mountainous Cajon Pass northeast of Los Angeles and, by late Wednesday night, had exploded to cover 25,626 acres (10,370 hectares), fire officials said.

While firefighters had managed to carve containment lines around only 4 percent of the blaze, state transit officials said northbound lanes of Interstate 15 would reopen in the area.

Fire officials expressed concern that "red flag" weather conditions would keep the area dry, hot and windy into Thursday night.

See more of the devastating wildfire:

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California's 'Blue Cut Fire'
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California's 'Blue Cut Fire'
Hotshot firefighters build a fire line after the fire jumped Lytle Creek Road during the Blue Cut fire in San Bernardino County, California, U.S. August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon
Hotshot firefighters build a fire line after the fire jumped Lytle Creek Road during the Blue Cut fire in San Bernardino County, California, U.S. August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon
A firefighting helicopter makes a drop close to power lines to protect homes during the Blue Cut fire in San Bernardino County, California, U.S. August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon
Embers glow as smoke fills the air at night along Lytle Creek Road during the Blue Cut fire in San Bernardino County, California, U.S. August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon
Firefighters watch during a firing operation to protect homes on Lytle Creek Road during the Blue Cut fire in San Bernardino County, California, U.S. August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon
Firefighters protect homes on Lytle Creek Road during the Blue Cut fire in San Bernardino County, California, U.S. August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon
Firefighters protect homes on Lytle Creek Road during the Blue Cut fire in San Bernardino County, California, U.S. August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon
A fire engine drives down Lytle Creek Road during the Blue Cut fire in San Bernardino County, California, U.S. August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon
A fire engine keeps a lookout as flames whipped by strong winds burn though the hillside destroying camper vans during the Blue Cut fire in San Bernardino County, California, U.S. August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Firefighters spray water while battling the Blue Cut fire near Wrightwood, California U.S., August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Firefighters protect homes during the Blue Cut Fire in San Bernardino County, California, U.S. August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon
A firefighter sprays water while protecting homes during the Blue Cut Fire in San Bernardino County, California, U.S. August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon
Firefighters protect homes during the Blue Cut Fire in San Bernardino County, California, U.S. August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon
A firefighting helicopter maneuvers around power lines and smoke to make a water drop during the Blue Cut fire at the Cajon Pass in San Bernardino County, California, U.S. August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Patrick T Fallon
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The Blue Cut Fire, named for a narrow gorge north of San Bernardino where it started, threatened the town of Wrightwood near a ski resort and other communities, prompting evacuation orders for some 80,000 residents.

Authorities have described the blaze as unusually fierce, even for a year of intense wildfires in the U.S. West, where years of drought have placed a heavy burden on firefighting resources. The cause of the fire was under investigation.

SEE ALSO: Firefighters battle to tame Los Angeles-area wildfires

U.S. government forecasters have said the risk of major wildfires in Southern California is likely to remain high until December, given the dryness and warm weather.

About 600 miles (970 km) to the northwest, the so-called Clayton Fire was 50 percent contained after charring nearly 4,000 acres in and around the community of Lower Lake and destroying 286 homes and other structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

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