I-5 re­opens af­ter blaze forces clo­sure

Ripon Bulletin - - Local/state -

SHASTA-TRIN­ITY NA­TIONAL FOR­EST (AP) — A ma­jor in­ter­state that con­nects Cal­i­for­nia and Ore­gon re­opened Mon­day af­ter a wild­fire roared along the road­way and forced a six-day clo­sure while burned trees and charred ve­hi­cles were re­moved.

One lane in each direc­tion of In­ter­state 5 near the Ore­gon bor­der was re­opened with re­stric­tions and warn­ings of slow traf­fic, Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion spokes­woman Denise Yer­gen­son said.

With the fire still burn­ing, ve­hi­cles car­ry­ing flammable ma­te­ri­als, in­clud­ing hay, wood chips, lum­ber and logs, will not be al­lowed along the 17-mile (27-kilo­me­ter) stretch in Shas­taTrin­ity Na­tional For­est.

“Mo­torists should an­tic­i­pate long lines of ve­hi­cles and long de­lays,” Yer­gen­son said.

The stretch of highway that tra­verses the West Coast from Mex­ico to Canada and serves as a main artery for com­merce had been closed since Wed­nes­day, when a wall of flames de­scended from hills along the highway and forced mo­torists to aban­don trucks and cars.

Of­fi­cials have de­ter­mined that the free­way is safe for travel, but po­ten­tial clo­sures could be or­dered at any time. Ac­cess ramps along the stretch re­mained closed.

The blaze has chewed through 64 square miles (165 square kilo­me­ters) of tim­ber and brush. It was 5 per­cent con­tained Mon­day. The blaze was hu­man­caused, of­fi­cials said, with­out in­di­cat­ing whether it was ar­son or an ac­ci­dent.

The highway clo­sure forced trucks and other traf­fic to take smaller, wind­ing roads that added 100 miles (160 kilo­me­ters) and as long as eight hours to trips in bumper-to-bumper traf­fic.

It was the lat­est of sev­eral ma­jor fires that have rav­aged the area this sum­mer. The cur­rent fire was mov­ing into an area that pre­vi­ously burned.


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