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Douglas County fire crews pounce on freeway fire

Strong winds fanned a 5-acre wildfire burning Tuesday night in the Interstate 5 median near Myrtle Creek, but firefighters were able to keep the flames from jumping the freeway.

Crews from the Douglas Forest Protective Association, Douglas County Fire District No. 2, and Winston-Dillard Fire Department responded to the blaze, dubbed the I-5 Milepost 114 fire, at about 7 p.m. after calls from passing drivers, Douglas Forest Protective Association spokesman Kyle Reed said. DFPA responded with five engines, with three more from Douglas County and Winston-Dillard agencies.

Crews found two fires burning in the median near milepost 114, Reed said. Winds fanned the flames, eventually merging the two fires together and pushing the blaze to the south.

“You get the evening winds that come down through there, coming down off the hill,” Reed said. “It’s a fairly steep cut bank there from the southbound lanes. As long as it stayed between the median, though, we weren’t too concerned. The biggest concern was it spotted across the freeway on us.”

The fire was about 17 miles from where the Milepost 97 fire burned in 2019, a 13,668-acre, human-caused blaze that spewed smoke into the region for several days.

Crews had to temporarily close one of the northbound lanes Tuesday, splitting into two groups that cut the fire off at its northern and southern ends.

“We had crews working on both ends right from the get-go,” Reed said.

Firefighters stayed on scene until about 10 p.m. mopping up hot spots and strengthening control lines. The cause of the fire is believed to be “vehicle-related,” fire officials said.

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