Fires shut down Interstate 8 traffic to San Diego area - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Fires shut down Interstate 8 traffic to San Diego area

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Posted: Tuesday, October 28, 2003 8:56 am | Updated: 2:02 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

On Sunday, it was the skies. A day later, it was the roads.

Travel between the Valley and Southern California continues to be affected by the deadly wildfires in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.

And just as Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport was returning to normal, the major highway between the Valley and San Diego was shut down.

America West and Southwest airlines reported far fewer cancellations one day after countless passengers spent an unexpected night in area hotels or on airport cots. But motorists trying to get in or out of San Diego on Interstate 8 were being turned around.

California Highway Patrol officer Larry Landeros said the stretch of Interstate 8 between Buckman Springs Road, east of Pine Valley, to Lake Jennings Park Road is closed with "no sign of reopening."

"We’re turning them around — we have nowhere else to send them," Landeros said Monday from the San Diego communications center. "If people there want to come to California, tell them ‘no.’ "

Interstate 15 through the San Diego area reopened Monday afternoon, but it is subject to closing at any time, Landeros said. Farther north, Interstate 10 — the major link between Phoenix and Los Angeles — was open, as well as Interstate 15 through the Inland Empire, Highway Patrol officer Sean Cooper said in San Bernardino.

Sky Harbor spokeswoman Lexie Van Haren said the Phoenix airport was "very busy" Monday morning, but the extra staff and volunteers helped things run smoothly as air service returned closer to normal.

America West canceled 74 of its 100 flights on Sunday between Phoenix and Southern California, said Lori Blackburn, an America West Airlines spokeswoman. On Monday, 22 flights had been canceled by afternoon.

Southwest Airlines canceled 460 flights Sunday, but as of 11 a.m. Monday, cancellations totaled 46, spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger said.

America West and Southwest serve San Diego, Los Angeles, Burbank, Ontario and Orange County airports. America West also services Long Beach, while America West Express flies to Palm Springs, Carlsbad and Santa Barbara. All airports were reported open Monday.

David Wolf of Malibu arrived at 2 p.m. Sunday at Sky Harbor, hoping to catch a flight to Los Angeles earlier than his scheduled 6 p.m. departure. Nearly 24 hours later, Wolf was in line at the Southwest ticket counter.

"I saw the Christmas rush and said forget it," said Wolf, who was booked on a 2 p.m. flight Monday. "I would probably have spent six or seven hours in the airport, so I went to a friend’s place."

Kia Hardy of San Diego started Monday morning in New Orleans. She flew to Dallas, but instead of flying home to San Diego, American Airlines rerouted her flight to Phoenix. She was then given a voucher to get from Phoenix to San Diego on America West. She wasn’t yet booked on a flight and admitted she wouldn’t mind a delay.

"I heard the football game is here and they’re giving out free tickets," Hardy said. "Maybe they’ll send me on a flight tomorrow."

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