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Snow-heavy tree nearly crushes ODOT incident responder traveling on I-5

Trees can pose a major risk to travelers, even along highways that aren't impacted by wildfire. Last week, a snow-heavy tree nearly crushed an Oregon Department of Transportation incident responder traveling on Interstate-5.

In a social media post on Instagram, ODOT said this of the incident:

There are other hazards besides snow and ice. Always be alert when traveling, especially during winter. For instance, yesterday around 2 p.m., one of our incident responders traveling north on I-5 near Wolf Creek watched as a large, snow-heavy tree started to fall across the road right in front of them. And there was no way to get away from it.

We love a good dash cam video but, whoa!

Thankfully there were no injuries. Some wide eyes and fast breathing, oh sure! And a branch hit the windshield, causing some damage, but no people were hurt. When responding to the scene, @ospsocial spotted a private logging company truck waiting in the traffic queue. They agreed to help remove the fallen tree from the road. After an OSP escort up the shoulder, the loggers made short work of it, having the tree cleared about an hour after it had fallen, with all travel lanes open and flowing in about 30 additional minutes. Thank you to OSP and the private logging company for their help in quickly removing the tree from the freeway. Had they not been there and willing to assist, the one-and-a-half-hour delay would have been much longer. Be watchful. Slow down, and be careful out there.

The Debris Management Task Force shared this message of gratitude:

“We are grateful that no one was injured during this distressing event,” said Tony Andersen, strategic communications director for the ODOT-led Debris Management Task Force. “With thousands of dead or dying trees once lining state highways as a tragic result of the 2020 wildfires, we are also grateful for our crews who have worked around the clock in fire-impacted areas to remove trees that pose safety threats, working to avoid any potential situations similar to this. We are thankful to everyone committed to ensuring no more lives are lost to the 2020 wildfires.”

Read more about this incident and watch the video from OregonLive to hear the worker’s account of what happened.



Wildfire waste and debris removal

The State of Oregon is working with federal, state and local partners to remove hazardous waste, and ash and debris from the 2020 Oregon wildfires safely, efficiently, and as quickly as possible. The Oregon Departments of Transportation, Environmental Quality and Emergency Management are leading the effort, with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assistance.

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