Highways 99 and 199 open again
Two Southern Oregon highways are back open after fast spreading wildfires forced their closure a week and a half ago.
For the first time since the Almeda fire raged through the southern portion of Jackson County, motorists can again travel from Medford to Ashland on South Pacific Highway according to the Oregon Department of Transportation. Separately, the highway that links the Rogue Valley to coastal communities in Northern California and Southern Oregon is also back open.
On highways 99 and 199, however, ODOT advises motorists to expect delays and to be prepared for temporary closures or hazards.
On South Pacific Highway, ODOT advises motorists to expect intermittent delays and lane closures as utility crews and other crews work on fire recovery and rebuilding efforts. Fire affected areas in Phoenix and Talent deemed unsafe are still cordoned-off, and ODOT warns drivers to watch for all closure and hazard zones.
The Jackson County Sheriff's Office Saturday downgraded all unaffected portions of Phoenix and Talent still in the evacuation area to Level 1 "Be Ready," according to a JCSO release.
Highway 199 — also known as Redwood Highway — was also reopened Saturday south of Cave Junction through to Highway 101, but ODOT says the area remains an active fire zone as crews battle the Slater/Devil fires in Southern Oregon and Northern California.
ODOT advises motorists to watch for crews on the side of the road, prepare for possible delays depending on fire conditions and to expect future short term delays and closures to accommodate firefighters.
The Slater fire started Sept. 7 near the Slater Butte Lookout on the Klamath National Forest, and has since merged with a fire that began on the Upper Devil's Peak of the Klamath National Forest and have spread to portions of the Six Rivers and Rogue River-Siskiyou national forests in Siskiyou and Del Norte counties in California and Josephine County in Oregon, according to Inciweb. As of Saturday, the fire is 153,842 acres and 25 percent contained.