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N. Umpqua Highway 138E to remain closed into next week

North Umpqua Highway 918
Over the last two weeks, the Archie Creek fire has caused more than a hundred trees to fall and block the North Umpqua Highway, including this area two miles east of Idleyld. Several thousand more hazard trees will need to be removed over the next several months.

GLIDE, Oregon (KTVZ) – Due to ongoing firefighting efforts, Oregon 138E (North Umpqua Highway) will remain closed between Idleyld and the Oregon 230 junction (milepost 21-83) into next week, ODOT said Friday.

ODOT said it is working with partner agencies to open the highway as quickly as possible, but hazardous conditions persist in several locations.

The Archie Creek fire continues to threaten areas around Steamboat and Dry Creek, complicating efforts to reopen the rest of the Oregon 138E corridor.

"We are hopeful that rain and improved weather over the weekend will slow the growth of the fire," ODOT said in a Friday news release.

Residents who live along Oregon 138E between Idleyld and Toketee (milepost 21-61) are allowed to visit their properties. A checkpoint will be located in Idleyld, and residents will need to provide identification and proof of residence.

Challenges ahead

Over the past week, ODOT has been able to evaluate the damage along the corridor and begin the long-term repair work.

Strong winds and fire over the Labor Day weekend knocked more than a hundred trees into the highway. Many of these trees were enormous, measuring three or more feet in diameter. All of these trees have been removed from the roadway, though new trees continue to fall.

An estimated 7,000 to 10,000 other hazard trees, many burned and dead but still standing, are located along the edge of the highway and will have to be removed. Even at the most ambitious pace, it may take months to remove them all.

More than 100 of the 255 road signs in this area will have to be replaced. A total of 5½ miles of guardrail has been destroyed or damaged along the corridor.

More than 100 slopes, most hillsides within the perimeters of the fires, have been weakened by the fires and are at increased risk of rockslides. These areas will be addressed through the fall, winter and into next year.

ODOT is working to open the highway to at least a single lane as soon as possible. But the long-term work repairing the fire damage may require pilot cars and flaggers for several months.

Article Topic Follows: Fire Alert

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