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I-5 still closed; evacuations ordered

A fire that jumped across Interstate 5 south of the California-Oregon border is not contained, has grown to 5,000 acres and continues to close the freeway between Ashland and Yreka, California.

The freeway remained closed at 8:48 p.m., while crews battled the Klamathon Fire, according to CalTrans, which said there was no estimate when it would reopen. Numerous areas are being evacuated in the vicinity of the fire.

Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Gary Leaming says ODOT also has closed Old Highway 99, which runs south from the Emigrant Lake area, to stem the flow of traffic trying to get past the I-5 closure.

ODOT officials recommended that travelers heading into California should consider taking Oregon Highway 58 or 140 to Highway 97 and following it into California, where it meets I-5 at Weed. Highway 140 traffic may be slowed in the White City area due to a fire there.

Southbound I-5 was closed past the Ashland exit just after 3:50 p.m., according to Caltrans and ODOT reports, while crews attacked the Klamathon fire that jumped the freeway line in Northern California. Denise Yergenson with Caltrans District 2 said that northbound Interstate 5 was closed at north Yreka, Exit 776, while fire crews attacked the fire near Hornbrook, California.Crews were diverting traffic near Hilt Road and Bailey Hill Road.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported at about 6:45 p.m. that the Klamathon fire had grown to 1,000 acres and was "zero percent contained." CalFire says an evacuation order is in effect for Klamathon Road from I-5 to Ager and all Hornbrook City all the way to and including Hilt and the Colestin Valley. An evacuation shelter is open at the Jackson Street School in Yreka and a large animal shelter has been set up at the Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds.

The fire, which started two miles southeast of Hornbrook, broke out just days after a red flag warning was issued for the area due to strong, gusty winds and low humidity. Hornbrook is about 8 miles south of the Oregon border.

It's unclear how long the freeway closure will last. Caltrans, which is is sending updates via Twitter @CaltransD2and said "there is currently no estimated time for reopening Interstate 5."

For northern California residents displaced by the wildfire, the Red Cross opened a shelter at Ashland High School, according to a press release.

Leaming said drivers should also be aware that I-5 has been reduced to one lane in both directions for bridge construction at Milepost 14, which will lead to further back-ups when the freeway reopens and the now-stalled traffic begins to move.

Fire burns through a forested area near Hornbrook, California. The fire has closed Interstate 5, which remains closed at 7:30 p.m. (Photo by Nancy Hood, via CalFire)
A fire near Hornbrook, California has shut down Interstate 5{ } from Yreka to Ashland. As of 6 p.m., no time had been set for reopening.{ } (Photo from Twitter account @npsshah via Cal Fire)