Authorities lifted evacuation guidance near the Bolt Creek fire Saturday and said the blaze was human-caused. The fire continues to burn and is likely to cause hazy skies over Seattle throughout the weekend.
The Bolt Creek fire started Sept. 10 just north of Skykomish. The fire is now a little more than 12,000 acres and 28% contained, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
A team working with an investigator to find the cause of the fire “determined through evidence they acquired it was human-caused,” but has not released any more information, said Amanda Monthei, a spokesperson for the fire management team. It will likely take “a couple of weeks, if not months” for investigators to make an official determination of the cause.
“We had suspicion it was human-caused earlier on because we didn’t have lightning in the area when the fire started,” Monthei said.
As of 8 a.m. Saturday, all evacuation guidance for the areas around the fire was lifted.
“Residents in the area should remain vigilant,” said the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management. “Conditions could change quickly, and evacuations may again become necessary.”
Seattle is likely to see hazy skies through the weekend as easterly winds push smoke from the fire toward the city.
But air quality should remain good or moderate throughout most of the region, according to the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.
Closer to Highway 2, air quality could reach unhealthy levels for sensitive groups, the agency said. People who may be sensitive to the smoke include those with heart and lung disease, older people and children.
Wind patterns will continue “throughout the weekend and early next week, so we’ll probably see similar conditions for the next few days,” said Mary Butwin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle. Air quality is typically worse overnight as winds calm, then improves throughout the day, Butwin said.
Highway 2 reopened this week with a reduced 35 mph speed limit. The Washington State Patrol says it will “strictly” enforce that limit as crews continue to work in the area.
Beckler Road remains closed. Roads, trails and campgrounds in the area are still closed and a burn ban is in effect until “significant rain” falls, according to DNR.
The department says crews are working to contain the fire and make sure it stays north of Highway 2. However, little rain is expected and a “season ending event is not likely until later in the month of October.”