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Truck fire spreads to Ashland's Oak Knoll area

A semitrailer fire sparked a grass fire near Ashland's Oak Knoll neighborhood, then sent a thick, black column of smoke along Interstate 5.

The truck fire was first reported about 5:10 p.m. on northbound Interstate 5 near Exit 14, according to Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon records.

Debra Juedes posted on social media that the fire occurred right near her home.

"Right down the road from my house," Juedes posted on Facebook at 5:20 p.m. "We have heard multiple explosions and there is thick black smoke."

The fire briefly threatened structures on Oak Knoll Drive, and as of about 5:35 p.m., multiple agencies, including Ashland Fire-Rescue, Oregon Department of Forestry and Jackson County Fire District 5, searched for potential spot fires. Agencies are on high alert because of a devastating fire in 2010 that burned 11 homes in that neighborhood after a grass fire jumped the freeway.

Northbound lanes were closed as firefighters continued to battle spot grass fires. Traffic was backed up for about a mile, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. At least one lane was reopened about 6:20 p.m.

The truck was carrying thousands of bottles of wine from Stockton, California, when the brakes caught fire, officials said. 

A semitrailer fire stopped traffic northbound I-5 traffic and sparked several grass Wednesday evening near Ashland Exit 14. [photo submitted by Sean Thomas]