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Hwy 138E now open to traffic through wildfire zone, one car at a time

(KPIC image)

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- If you've been waiting to drive east on Hwy 138 in Douglas County, you can now use the road, though debris and rainfall is still affecting drivers.

The highway heading to Diamond Lake is now open to the public, but Oregon Dept. of Transportation is piloting cars through the wildfire zone one trip at a time.

Now the problem is rainfall, which can cause debris to fall and damage the roads. For ODOT, it's a safety issue.

"We've got a lot of trees falling, a lot of rocks falling,” said ODOT’s Dan Metz. “It's slowed down, but it continues to happen, so until it stops we'll have to pilot people through for public safety."

And it’s with good reason.

"We've got snags across the river from the highway that have burned through," Metz said.

As ODOT clears the way for drivers, the debris is being put in a giant pit.

"We'll have to see what happens [Tuesday] night,” said Metz, “we've got more moisture coming [Tuesday] night. We've got considerable rocks and trees left to move, but we're optimistic."

Until then, drivers will continue to be piloted through the wildfire zone

ODOT plans to patrol the highway as needed and hope to resume normal operations Wednesday.

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