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Fire press conference cut short with new fire at Table Rock overpass

A Wednesday press conference intended to give media new information on the two destructive wildfires that tore through opposite ends of the Rogue Valley on Tuesday was cut short when a new fire ignited nearby.

The new fire, located near the Table Rock overpass, quickly shot up a large column of gray smoke and drew an immediate response from the air and ground. Multiple airplanes and helicopters rushed to the scene, dropping retardant and water from buckets.

Interstate 5 was initially closed between exits 30 and 33, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. The whole city of Central Point is under a Level 3 "go" evacuation, according to a Central Point police Facebook post.

The Jackson County Expo in Central Point, which is serving as an emergency shelter for those displaced by the fires, is not evacuating. The area is under the protection of firefighters and air tankers, director Helen Funk said at 4:20 p.m. Wednesday.

However, many people have tried to flee The Expo, clogging the routes out with cars and blocking the paths of first responders, she said.

"Right now, we need people to stay in place so EMS and firefighters can do their jobs. They're doing a dang good job," Funk said.

The press conference had been intended for updates on the Almeda and South Obenchain fires, which destroyed homes, businesses, and thousands of acres of wildland Tuesday. Thousands of people fled their neighborhoods because of evacuation notices.

This story will be updated.

A fire near the Table Rock overpass shoots up a large column of smoke Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Ryan Pfeil){ }