Crews in 'mop-up mode' for fire along I-5 near Grants Pass

GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- Crews have chased down spot fires near a growing 115-acre wildfire that started Friday near Interstate 5 in the Grants Pass area.

As of Saturday afternoon, Oregon Department of Forestry Spokesman Brian Ballou said that firefighters have a good fire line around the blazes that haven't moved in around 16 hours. Crews have now entered "mop-up mode", where they go through the burned area extinguishing any residual flames or hot spots. Ballou said crews are still working on fully containing the fire.

The brushfire started along Interstate 5 Friday afternoon, and caused nearby residents to evacuate their homes, the city's Department of Public Safety said. No one was hurt in the fire.

Fire investigators said they believe the fire was started by a vehicle driving in the northbound lane of I-5, as there were multiple points of ignition along the roadside. They added that it could have been ignited by sparks from a trailer dragging its safety chains.

Officials said that people have been evacuated from their homes near Foothill Blvd., Beacon Dr. and the Hillcrest area because of the flames. Ballou said that one house had some minor fire damage, and a shed was completely destroyed.

Ballou said residents would likely see flames in the Beacon Hill area overnight Friday as fire crews ignite unburned vegetation along the fire line.

The Oregon Department of Transportation reported delays on I-5 that lasted as long as 2 hours while fire crews used part of the right lane to fight the fire. ODOT asks that drivers use caution when driving between mileposts 55 and 58 as fire crews work along the road's shoulder to smother the blaze.

Ballou said both lanes of northbound I-5 in the area were opened by 8 p.m. Friday night and several roadblocks had been lifted.

About 70 firefighters were scheduled to work Saturday on containing and extinguishing the wildfire. Four fire suppression crews, four engines and two water tenders have been assigned to the fire.

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This is a developing story, updates will be posted when they become available.


The Associated Press contributed to this article.