Evacuations updated as winds continue to spread Bolt Creek Fire

Sep 26, 2022, 7:20 AM | Updated: 6:11 pm
Photo by Sam Campbell Photo by Sam Campbell Photo by Sam Campbell Photo by Sam Campbell

Changing weather patterns have increased the threat of the Bolt Creek Fire, causing a series of new evacuations as officials say the fire could get more volatile rapidly due to heat and dry conditions.

The fire, which has been burning since Sept. 10, has gone from 96% contained down to just 7% contained.

As of 5 p.m. Sunday, some areas east of Skykomish, along with residences north and south of US Route 2, are under a Level 1 evacuation notice, meaning to start preparing to leave.

Smoldering Bolt Creek fire blankets greater Seattle area with smoke

Level 1 evacuations — ‘get ready’ — are also in effect for Beckler River to FS Road 66, north and south of US 2, including Foss River Road and Index.

Skykomish, Baring, Grotto, and the area along US 2 east to the Money Creek tunnel, are under a Level 2 notice, meaning to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

Level 3 orders — meaning to leave now — are in place from the west side of the Money Creek tunnel to milepost 48 and Forest Service Road 65.

A full list of evacuation orders can be found on the Snohomish County website.

The fire is now estimated at 10,599 acres and 96% of operational objectives have been completed, according to officials.

More than 150 personnel are working to get the fire contained, according to the Incident Information System updated Sunday Night.

Officials say the unusually hot, dry, and windy conditions have hampered crews’ efforts to contain the fire.

Some residents have already started to evacuate the area, while others have decided to stay behind as long as they can. Glen, a kitchen manager and a Skokomish resident for 10+ years, said that he and his family will “stay as long as possible.”

“I would say half the people are gone already,” Glen said. “We work here and we have businesses here. So we’ll stay as long as possible, but when [the evacuation] goes to level three, me and my wife are leaving. We felt they had it under control, which they still do, but they’re just getting more and more concerned as it moves with the wind.”

In fact, as soon as the Level 2 warning came out, Glen and his wife made preparations.

“We packed up the car and made sure everything was ready to go,” he said. “We’ve got two dogs and a cat we were concerned about.”

He is hopeful the fire will not reach his property.

“They’ve got the fire line, the highway, then you’ve got the river to cross before it really gets to town. Then I’m on the other side of the [railroad] tracks, so it’s got to cross all of that,” Glen said.

Still, he added, it is nevertheless “scary when you see the forest behind you going up.”

A fire weather watch has been put in place in the area for the next 72 hours as “unseasonably high temperatures nearing 85 [degrees] and critically low relative humidity dipping below 20%” along with 15-20 mph winds, may cause the fire to spread faster. Officials say that the peak of the critical fire watch period will occur between 12:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. Monday.

Current information on air quality may be found on the Washington Smoke Blog, with the fire expected to cause increased smoke across Western Washington.

Right now, US 2 remains open in both east and westbound directions for drivers to evacuate, but is operating at reduced speeds as crews continue to work in the area.

Sam Campbell contributed to this report 

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Evacuations updated as winds continue to spread Bolt Creek Fire