Highway 2 has reopened after the Bolt Creek fire temporarily shut it down, but small portions of the road will continue to close briefly as crews work to battle the flames, officials said Sunday.
“The road is open very generally, however we have had a few little reasons here and there to close it temporarily” in some spots, said Amanda Monthei, a spokesperson for the fire management team.
On Saturday, the highway was temporarily closed twice as crews removed trees that they thought could be a threat to power lines or the public. The road was closed in small sections between mileposts 46 and 50 for about 30-45 minutes each time, Monthei said.
On Sunday, the highway was closed between milepost 49 and 50, where the fire had “acted up a little bit” and crews were working on suppression efforts, she said. “Warmer and drier” conditions on Saturday contributed to elevated fire behavior this weekend, according to fire officials.
On Monday, it will close again for more tree removals. Monthei didn’t yet know the exact location or timing of the closures but expected they would again last 30-45 minutes.
“We’re allowing the fire to back down to the road,” she explained. As it does, it’s hitting “unburnt pockets” closer to the road, setting off temporary closures. This will likely continue until a “wetting rain” changes the fire behavior.
The Bolt Creek fire started Sept. 10 just north of Skykomish. The fire is now more than 12,000 acres and about 28% contained, according to the Department of Natural Resources.
Highway 2 reopened Thursday 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.
As of 8 a.m. Saturday, all evacuation guidance for the areas around the fire was lifted.
On Saturday, officials announced that the fire was “human-caused” but have not released any more information. A team working with an investigator to find the cause said they had “determined through evidence they acquired it was human-caused.” It will likely take a couple of weeks, if not months, for investigators to make an official determination of the cause, Monthei said.
Smoke from the Bolt Creek fire was causing hazy skies in Redmond, Bellevue, Renton and Kent on Sunday, according to data from the Washington Smoke Blog, a partnership between government agencies to monitor areas affected by wildfires.
Still, the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency said Sunday the air quality was expected to be good to moderate. With calm winds, the “smoke will likely stay around,” the agency said.