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UPDATED: Crews battle back I-5 fire

Nine days after the Oregon Department of Forestry declared fire season over in southwest Oregon, firefighters were working Wednesday to prevent the spread of yet another wildland blaze near the California border.

On Wednesday afternoon, ODF was joined by Ashland Fire & Rescue, Jackson County Fire District 5 and the Colestin Rural Fire District in an area just off Interstate 5 near milepost 4. The I5MP4 fire, as it’s called, grew to 13 acres, with flames as high as 2 feet, according to the ODF. Its cause is under investigation.

“The conditions that we have today aren’t necessarily helping crews,” said ODF public information officer Natalie Weber while en route to the blaze. “There’s a lot of slope here that’s pretty rough terrain, and there’s a lot of dry fuel just in this area, and we also have the winds we’re dealing with right now.”

By 4 p.m., most of the fire was lined and containment was estimated at 25 percent, ODF said on its Facebook page.

No homes were threatened, and no evacuation orders had been made. The Oregon Department of Transportation reported no impact to freeway traffic.

The challenging 2018 fire season lasted 151 days, kicking off June 1 and ending Oct. 29. Season totals showed ODF firefighters took on 348 wildland fires totaling about 50,000 acres. Of those fires, 106 were caused by lightning. The count doesn't include fires on national forestlands, including the 175,000-acre Klondike fire in Josephine County.

The end of fire season removes restrictions on ODF-covered land for equipment use and debris burning, which includes public and industrial operations on forestlands. However, many fire agencies require permits for debris burning, so it is recommended you check with your local fire department to obtain any necessary permits before burning.

“While fire season is officially over, warm temperatures in the afternoon pose an increased risk for wildfires to start and spread quickly,” a post on the ODF Southwest Facebook page read. “Please be aware, and remain vigilant into the winter months.”

Reach web editor Ryan Pfeil at rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com or at 541-776-4468. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ryanpfeil.

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