Bolt Creek Fire team completes containment strategy, will withdraw

Oct 21, 2022, 11:48 AM


Photo from Department of Natural Resources

The incident management team of wide-ranging officials fighting the Bolt Creek Fire north of Skykomish will withdraw on Saturday morning, fire officials said.

The decision comes as winds blow smoke westward and forecasters predict two weather systems carrying precipitation for the region over the weekend. Fire officials expect nearly two inches of rain by Saturday morning.

Rain washes away smoke as weather cools down this weekend

After roughly a month of fighting the Bolt Creek Fire, crews will soon be departing the Cascades. As of Friday morning, the fire is 45% contained at 14,820 acres, according to the Department of Natural Resources, the official website for wildfire status reporting. Officials said they expect that containment number to jump as cooler, wet weather arrives.

“Forecast rainfall amounts and duration will be sufficient to diminish fire threat and result in limited smoldering in heavy fuels,” the team wrote on the official incident website.

The National Weather Service in Seattle said those around the Puget Sound region can also expect cleaner air as a result.

Bolt Creek Fire officials told KIRO Newsradio the team has been steadily downsizing and had “completed our containment strategy.” Now, it plans to hand off patrol and monitoring to a small local organization.

It’s unclear when exactly fire officials expect the Bolt Creek Fire to reach 100% containment. KIRO Newsradio has reached out to the incident management team for more information.

Now the fire is starting to be contained, a new concern has arisen: The risk of landslides in burn scars. A burn scar is scorched earth left behind after a wildfire, which is prone to debris and flooding, especially in steep terrain, like the Bolt Creek Fire. The burned soil can repel water that would usually be absorbed, causing much less rainfall to generate a flash flood, according to the National Weather Service.

Fire officials expect the Bolt Creek Fire to be completely contained by Oct. 31, marking 51 days since the blaze began.

Officials have ruled the fire was caused by human activity, but have so far released few details as to the investigation.

The Seattle Times reports that small aircraft and helicopters periodically dumped water on the Bolt Creek Fire.

A spokesperson with the Washington State Department of Natural Resources told KIRO Newsradio that every resource that was requested has been approved and that large tanker aircraft are available should crews on the ground at any wildfire in the state request them. But it is unclear whether large aircraft were used to combat the spread of the Bolt Creek Fire, which contributed to poor air quality in the Seattle-Tacoma area for weeks.

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Bolt Creek Fire team completes containment strategy, will withdraw