Officials: I-5 a concern due to Lava Fire, but safe to travel Tuesday

Mike Chapman
Mount Shasta Herald

Note to readers: We’ve made this story free as an important public service to our North State communities. If you are able, help power local journalism. Subscribe to your local newspaper for as little as $1.

Motorists wanting to take Interstate 5 in Siskiyou County are wondering if it's safe to travel the freeway due to the Lava Fire.

A commenter on the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office Facebook page said she wanted to take I-5 late Tuesday or Wednesday morning and wondered about driving conditions.

The answer Tuesday morning is yes, it's OK to take I-5. "Cameras seem to be thick smoke at the least," the woman posted.

Forest Service officials said Tuesday that Interstate 5 west and southwest of Weed continues to be an “area of concern” due to the Lava Fire, but the California Department of Transportation says the freeway was safe to drive in Siskiyou County as of Tuesday morning.

“The Lava Fire is not too far off of I-5, but at this point we’ve not been advised of any threat to I-5 traffic,” Caltrans public information officer Haleigh Pike said Tuesday morning.

The blaze was burning about 3.5 miles northeast of Weed and motorists can see the billowing smoke.

“We’ve not been advised of any closures or precautions that are being taken on I-5 at this point,” she said.

Smoke from the 13,330-ace Lava Fire northeast of Weed was drifting to the northwest over far Northern California and western Oregon.

It’s a different story on Highway 97 where a 30-mile stretch is closed between the city of Weed and Juniper Lodge. The fire has crossed Highway 97 and Caltrans crews are manning roadblocks.

Fire officials said Tuesday the rail line in the area remains threatened.

“Anytime we see a fire kind of go crazy like this one did Monday, it becomes concerning for people in all areas,” Pike said.

“We’re monitoring the situation and if we get any updates from our crews in the field or the Forest Service and Cal Fire, we’ll be sure to notify people on our social media accounts.”

Mike Chapman is an award-winning reporter and photographer for the Record Searchlight in Redding, Calif. His newspaper career spans Yreka and Eureka in Northern California and Bellingham, Wash. Support local journalism by subscribing today.