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UPDATE: I-5 Reopened, Fatality Reported as Klamathon Wildfire Continues

The freeway was closed both northbound and southbound due to flames from the Klamathon Fire encroaching nearby. Meanwhile, hundreds of homes were evacuated in the area.

Posted: Jul 5, 2018 2:11 PM
Updated: Jul 6, 2018 5:21 PM


UPDATE: CAL FIRE has confirmed at least one civilian fatality near the Hornbrook area. The identity of that victim has not yet been revealed.

Meanwhile, ODOT reports that I-5 has been completely reopened without escorts both north and southbound between Yreka and Ashland. They say to expect heavy, slow-moving traffic through the area that was previously closed due to the Klamathon Fire.

All exits between Ashland and Yreka will remain closed.

At the last estimate, the Klamathon Fire has covered over 8,000 acres and is now five percent contained. Evacuation orders remain in effect between the communities of Hornbrook and Hilt, so residents are not yet being allowed to return to the area until fire crews can guarantee their safety.

(Updated as of 9 a.m. on Friday, July 6)

CalFire is allowing I-5 to reopen to traffic this morning but expect major delays and congestion.

ODOT/OSP will meter and escort several hundred vehicles through the burn zone southbound from MP 11, south of Ashland. Caltrans/CHP will do the same NB from Yreka.

Depending on Klamathon Fire behavior throughout the day, conditions could change. 

The Klamathon Fire is now burning 8,000 acres, 5% contained.

UPDATE: Caltrans District 2 officials are advising the traveling public, both commercial and private, that Interstate 5 near the California - Oregon border will remain CLOSED throughout the night due to the Klamathon Fire. 

It is recommended that people limit travel if possible -perhaps staying in Redding or further south in Red Bluff or Corning until the road is clear.

Another suggestion, especially for commercial trucks on freight routes/schedules is to drive through Weed and SR97 without stopping. But please remember this route is already crowded and it is extremely important to drive slowly and fully aware of the potential excess in the number of vehicles transiting via SR 97.

Caltrans District 2 won't be able to provide another update until the morning, perhaps at 6 AM or 7 AM or 8 AM --depending on conditions.

(Updated as of 12:00 p.m. on Friday, July 6)

The Klamathon Fire now covers over 5,000 acres with many structures damaged, threatened or destroyed, according to CAL FIRE.

An evacuation order continues to be in effect between Hornbrook and Ager in the south and Hilt and Colestin Valley in the north.

(Updated as of 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 5)

A CAL FIRE spokesperson now says that the Klamathon Fire covers upwards of 1,000 acres as it continues to spread north and west toward Oregon.

Authorities worked quickly to evacuate residents of the small community of Hilt near the Oregon/California border. As of this update, evacuation efforts there are considered finished.

I-5 will remain close until further notice, with no estimated time to reopen, according to ODOT. Highway 273 (Old Siskiyou Hwy) is closed at Highway 66, and travel using Hwy 66 is not advised for trucks.

(Updated as of 6:20 p.m. on Thursday, July 5)

UPDATE: CAL FIRE has confirmed that the Klamathon Fire is now estimated to cover over 500 acres. Evacuations are now being ordered as far north as the communities of Hilt and Cole near the Oregon/California border.

Fire is being reported on both sides of I-5 now, having jumped the roadway.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has confirmed that I-5 southbound is closed at milepost 14 near Ashland.

CalTrans and California Highway Patrol (CHP) have requested that ODOT "stop all traffic coming into California" due to the Klamathon Fire and evacuations from Hornbrook. Southbound traffic is being advised to exit I-5 prior to Ashland exit 14.

Northbound traffic is still being stopped by CalTrans and CHP at the north Yreka exit, according to ODOT.

(Updated as of 4:40 p.m. on Thursday, July 5)

Interstate-5 has been completely closed to through-traffic near Hornbrook due to the fire's proximity to the interstate.

I-5 southbound is closed at exit 14 in Oregon (Ashland) and northbound at exit 786 in California (Yreka).

Travelers heading southbound into California are being given the option of turning around and heading back north on I-5 or taking Highway 97.

(Updated as of 3:50 p.m. on Thursday, July 5)

CAL FIRE has confirmed that the town of Hornbrook is now being evacuated. This includes all of Hornbrook City north of Copco Road. Witnesses say that the fire jumped the Klamath River.

A NewsWatch 12 reporter on the scene says that high winds are causing the fire to grow quickly. CAL FIRE now estimates that the fire covers over 50 acres and is still 0 percent contained.

Hundreds of homes are threatened, CAL FIRE says. Some structures may already have been destroyed.

Hornbrook lies north on the other side of the Klamath River from the initial evacuations, which were ordered for the community of Ager to the southeast and all homes along the Klamathon Road, which runs along the south bank of the river.

CAL FIRE says that an evacuation shelter is open at the Jackson Street School in Yreka, with a "large animal" shelter at the County Fairgrounds.

At last estimate, Hornbrook has a population of around 250 people, not counting the surrounding areas.

(Updated as of 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, July 5)

INITIAL REPORT: An evacuation order is in effect due to a growing wildfire about two miles southeast of the community of Hornbrook in Siskiyou County.

CAL FIRE says that the fire covers more than 30 acres and is not at all contained at this time. For this reason, all homes on Klamathon Road and all side roads are being ordered to evacuate between the community of Ager and Interstate-5.

This is a developing story. NewsWatch 12 has a reporter on the way.

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