Interstate 5 has been closed in both directions as a fire near Ashland has led to low visibility and dangerous conditions.
Southbound drivers are urged to exit I-5 and seek local services in the Medford/Central Point area until fire conditions improve and the interstate reopens.
Northbound drivers are being turned around and sent back to California.
There is no estimated time for reopening.
The Jackson County Expo grounds at I-5 Exit 33 Central Point is open as a shelter.
For those who aren’t evacuating, the safest option is to stay off the roads in smoky and low visibility conditions. High winds and wildfires also create other hazards including downed limbs and power lines. Remember to check conditions if you must head out.
If you are driving and encounter heavy smoke, here are some steps you can take to help stay safe, according to ODOT.
n Slow down and stay alert. Slow driving gives you more time to respond to unexpected conditions.
n Turn on your headlights. Even during daylight hours your headlights will help others on the road see you. Use low-beams as high-beams reflect off the moisture in the air and cause glare.
n Use fog lights. If you have them, fog lights can help cut through the smoke.
n Check your entire route before setting out. Conditions may be very different at your destination.
n Find an alternate route. Fire is wildly unpredictable, especially in high winds. If at all possible find a route that takes you away from fires.
n Keep plenty of space between you and other vehicles. Visibility, of course, decreases in smoke so maintain a safe stopping distance between you and the vehicle up front.
n If visibility becomes too dangerous to continue, pull off to the side of the road as soon as safely possible.
n Never stop in a travel lane. Look for a safe area completely off the road if possible and turn off all lights, including flashers, until it’s safe to continue.
n Don’t tailgate. Keep a steady, reliable pace. Remember that everyone else on the road is in the same fix you’re in. They’re counting on you to help show the way.
n Roll up the windows. Set your fan to recirculate.
n Have your car ready before you go. Make sure you have a full gas tank before leaving and your vehicle is in good condition. Have water, food, and medications with you – and for any pets you bring.