Crews working to reopen Highway 138
Crews are working to reopen Highway 138 east of Roseburg ― perhaps by this weekend, the Oregon Department of Transportation said Wednesday.
A section of the highway between Steamboat and Slide Creek from milepost 38 to 55 has been closed since July 5 due to the Jack fire.
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ODOT officials said the wildfire is burning away from the highway, which is also known as the North Umpqua Highway. It caused minimal damage to the road compared to previous fires in the scenic corridor.
“The fire burned in steep, rocky terrain but we didn’t have nearly as many big trees fall across the highway as we’ve seen in previous fires,” said ODOT Interim District Manager Jeremiah Griffin.
Several hazard trees and other debris caused by the fire are still on or near the highway, but crews are working quickly to hit the weekend reopening goal, officials said.
“Reopening a highway after a wildfire is a balance,” Griffin said. “We work closely with our partners in any post fire assessment, and weigh public and worker safety on when to reopen.”
Crews are evaluating burnt signs and sections of guardrail. They are making plans for their replacement.
When the highway does reopen, Griffin urged drivers to be careful, watch out for workers and expect delays due to slower speeds in the burn area.
Motorists can expect frequent delays throughout the summer between Idleyld and Steamboat (milepost 21-38) and near Diamond Lake (milepost 76-80) due to rehabilitation work on last year’s Archie Creek and Thielsen wildfires, officials said.
On Wednesday, fire agencies estimated the Jack fire had burned 13,907 acres and was 15% contained.
Resources working the fire include 781 people, five aircraft, six dozers and 29 engines.
Four injuries have been linked to the fire, and 243 structures are under threat, fire managers said.