Firefighters from Ashland Fire & Rescue, Jackson County Fire District 5, and the Oregon Department of Forestry responded to a truck fire along I-5 at 5:10 p.m. on Wednesday. A truck carrying a shipment of wine northbound caught fire and stopped approximately one tenth of a mile before the Exit 14 off ramp, directly adjacent to homes that burned in the 2010 Oak Knoll Fire. Oregon State Police and Oregon Department of Transportation shut down northbound I-5 for firefighter and public safety.
The driver was uninjured though the truck was largely consumed by the fire. Several explosions were heard in the area as the truck’s tires overheated, a serious safety issue for firefighters. One tire shot over 30 feet from the rim and bounced off a concrete wall erected after the 2010 fire. The fire spread to adjacent mowed grass and was easily extinguished at the base of the wall. Adjacent homes were threatened, and although ash sprinkled the rooftops and yards, no fires ignited on the Oak Knoll side of the wall. Fire crews patrolled yards along Oak Knoll following the fire to ensure no embers had caused smoldering on or near homes.
Chris Chambers, Ashland Fire & Rescue Division Chief, was in the Oak Knoll neighborhood during Wednesday’s fire and was one of the first to arrive in 2010’s Oak Knoll Fire to evacuate residents.
“The difference between the two fires was night and day. The combination of fire resistant rooftops, the wall, mowed grass, and lack of junipers, arborvitae, and cypress kept this fire from turning into another disaster for this neighborhood,” said Chambers. He added, “There’s still work to do in Oak Knoll where the 2010 fire didn’t burn, and we will be reaching out to the neighborhood through our Firewise program to offer help as we did after the fire in 2010.”
I-5 northbound reopened at 6:31 p.m. after an ODOT backhoe helped unload cargo and move debris out of the right-hand lane of traffic.
Established in 1887, Ashland Fire & Rescue provides 24-four hour service, responding to over 4,100 calls each year in an area that exceeds 650 square miles.