Traffic allowed on Hwy 26 after week-long closure due to wildfire

Traffic allowed on Hwy 26 after week-long closure due to wildfire
Traffic started moving on Hwy 26 east of Prineville on Tuesday, July 22, after a week-long closure due to fire.

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - An 18-mile stretch of highway closed by a wildfire July 15 opened to one-way traffic with a pilot car July 22.

State transportation officials closed US Highway 26 east of Prineville due to the Waterman Complex of fires.

The fire was active along the roadway, leaving hazard trees and debris if not flames.

Firefighters had also worked along the road to perform "burnouts" - controlled fires that aim to burn up the forest debris that fuel wildfires.

Traffic is being allowed through in one direction at a time, guided by a pilot car, from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., fire managers said.

The highway could close at any time to facilitate firefighting activities.

Oregon DOT estimates travel delays of 20 minutes up to 2 hours. | Latest from TripCheck

Motorists are not allowed to stop anywhere in the closure area, nor are drivers allowed to take any side roads in the closure area.

Lightning ignited the fires that make up the Waterman Complex July 11 and July 12. The fires have burned 12,520 acres and are now 75 percent contained.