Highway 2 will remain closed between Index and Skykomish through at least Monday, as crews battling the Bolt Creek fire work to clear fallen debris and secure trees and boulders at risk of crashing onto the roadway.
The closure could last longer. Emergency response personnel will gather Monday morning to evaluate whether the highway can be safely reopened.
Rachel Lipsky, a spokesperson for Northwest Incident Management Team 8, said officials are announcing that the stretch of highway heading toward Stevens Pass will remain closed so drivers and residents can plan accordingly.
“We want to give folks a little bit of lead time on planning, especially for those who have left the area and want to come back for whatever reason,” Lipsky said.
Recent weather patterns have worked in crews’ favor as they try to control the fire, which has burned an estimated 9,440 acres as of Thursday. Small amounts of rain fell in the last day. More importantly, temperatures have dropped and humidity levels have increased, meaning large trees and other fuels are less likely to ignite.
Workers have made good progress establishing fire lines, with the help of several forest roads, Lipsky said. In the coming days, they will try to identify trees at risk of falling onto Highway 2 and clear them when necessary.
Landslides on Highway 20 to the north blocked another route over the Cascades on Wednesday night, further complicating the picture for drivers traveling east or west. Crews hoped to have that passage, which closes during the winter months, open Thursday, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation.