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Oak Knoll residents hope to build fire-resistant wall

 Posted: 2:00 AM September 18, 2010

City officials will work with Oak Knoll Drive residents who hope to have a fire-resistant cement wall built to separate their homes from nearby Interstate 5, Ashland City Administrator Martha Bennett said.

A charred wire fence topped with barbed wire divides private property from the Oregon Department of Transportation's right-of-way along the freeway.

The residents may have to finance the wall themselves, however.

"The only real walls we build on our right-of-way are sound walls," said ODOT District Manager Jerry Marmon. "We have never built a wall for fire protection.

"Unless the wall was pretty tall, I don't think it would protect against fire, anyway."

People on the scene of the Oak Knoll fire reported that flames topped 30 feet and embers spotted 1,400 feet ahead of the fire.

Oak Knoll neighbor Allen Baker, whose home was not burned, said the wall would serve multiple purposes.

"It would buffer against noise and also fire or a truck running off I-5 into our neighborhoods," he said. "That's a real and present danger to us."

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