Wildfire that closed Highway 20 grows to 50 acres, causes major traffic delays

A wildfire that ignited Monday near Santiam Pass has grown to 50 acres and is causing traffic delays on U.S. Highway 20.

The main highway between Salem and Sisters is open, but drivers should expect “long traffic delays” as a pilot car takes traffic through the area where the fire is active.

The fire was reported at 3 p.m. Monday near Potato Hill, just past Santiam Junction, but it jumped across the roadway and began burning on the highway’s north side near Lost Lake.

Now known as the Potato Hill Fire, the blaze is burning mostly on the south side of the highway and about 30 yards the road.

Fire teams are attacking the fire directly today — using resources that were previously being used on the nearby Whitewater Fire.

"Firefighters on the ground, supported by helicopters dropping water took direct and indirect suppression actions during initial attack," Willamette National Forest officials said in a news release. "Firefighters continue to evaluate potential values at risk and suppression efforts."

The cause of the fire is under investigation. For road status and information, go to tripcheck.com.

Officials stressed that anyone traveling anywhere in the Cascade Range should be careful given a small spark from a cigarette or dragging chain could easily ignite flames given the dryness of conditions.  

© 2017 KGW-TV


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