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A major interstate that connects California and Oregon reopened Monday after a wildfire roared along the roadway and forced a six-day closure while burned trees and charred vehicles were removed.
One lane in each direction of Interstate 5 near the Oregon border was reopened with restrictions and warnings of slow traffic, California Department of Transportation spokeswoman Denise Yergenson said.
With the fire still burning, vehicles carrying flammable materials, including hay, wood chips, lumber and logs, will not be allowed along the 17-mile (27-kilometer) stretch in Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
"Motorists should anticipate long lines of vehicles and long delays," Yergenson said.
The stretch of highway that traverses the West Coast from Mexico to Canada and serves as a main artery for commerce had been closed since Wednesday, when a wall of flames descended from hills along the highway and forced motorists to abandon trucks and cars.
Officials have determined that the freeway is safe for travel, but potential closures could be ordered at any time. Access ramps along the stretch remained closed.
- Motorists traveling south on I-5 from Mount Shasta can take Highway 89 to take westbound Highway 299 to Highway 3 to Redding. Travel time is estimated to be three hours with grid-lock traffic speeds.
- Southbound traffic can also take Highway 89 to westbound Highway 44 into Redding. The estimated travel time needed is about two hours at moderate speeds.
- Motorists traveling north on I-5 from Redding can take Highway 299 east, turn on to northbound Highway 89 and go to Mount Shasta. This is estimated to take up to three hours with grid-lock traffic.
- Those going north can also take Highway 299 east to northbound Highway 139 at Canby, to westbound Highway 161 to Dorris, to southbound US 97 to Weed, and then back onto northbound I-5. This should take up to five hours at free-flow traveling speeds.
Motorists should anticipate long lines of vehicles and long delays. Motorists should make sure their cars have plenty of fuel.
The blaze has chewed through nearly 50,000 acres of timber and brush. It was 5 percent contained Monday. The blaze was human-caused, officials said, without indicating whether it was arson or an accident.
The highway closure forced trucks and other traffic to take smaller, winding roads that added 100 miles (160 kilometers) and as long as eight hours to trips in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
It was the latest of several major fires that have ravaged the area this summer. The current fire was moving into an area that previously burned.
The wildfire also was close to the scene of a massive blaze that killed eight people and burned about 1,100 homes before it was contained last month.