The Bolt Creek fire intensified Sunday, prompting authorities to raise the evacuation level to level 2 from Skykomish to Baring, King County. Level 2 means residents should be ready to leave on short notice.

“As you may notice, there’s a lot of smoke in the sky,” Linda Lancaster, one of the public information officers with the Bolt Creek fire, said in a statement Sunday afternoon. “This hot, dry weather is causing the fire to kind of pick up in activity.” 

Firefighters have spent the past three weeks battling the fire and setting “control lines” with a series of “trigger points,” Lancaster said. “The fire’s kind of backing down the mountain today, and it has triggered one of those trigger points.” 

The level 2 evacuation applied from Beckler Road to Baring, said Andy Nesmith, another public information officer, Sunday afternoon. The department’s original notice misstated that the evacuation would apply to the entire fire area.

The Bolt Creek fire ignited early on Sept. 10, spreading rapidly to 7,600 acres by the next day. It was an estimated 10,725 acres Sunday.

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The fire department’s decision to raise the evacuation level came the day after U.S. Highway 2 between Index and Skykomish reopened, unlocking a critical travel route that had been shut down for two weeks as crews fought to control the Bolt Creek fire.

Lancaster said Sunday that firefighters were “working right up to the highway” and asked drivers to slow down.

On Sunday evening, the fire department added parts of Snohomish County to the level 1 evacuation alert, meaning residents should be ready to go. South of U.S. 2, near Index, including Index Estates and the Lake Serene Trailhead, were added to a new level 1 evacuation alert. Index remained at a level 1 alert.

Baring and Grotto, along U.S. 2 east to the Money Creek tunnel, remained on a level 2 evacuation alert, meaning residents should be set to leave on short notice. The department also maintained a level 3 alert — residents should go — from the west side of Money Creek tunnel to milepost 48, plus Forest Service Road 65.

The department raised Skykomish from a level 1 to a level 2 alert on Sunday. It also added a level 1 alert for the area east of Skykomish, from the Beckler River to Forest Service Road 66 and north and south of U.S. 2, including Foss River Road.

“Residents in the area should remain vigilant,” the department posted on Facebook Sunday evening. “The area remains hazardous. Conditions could change quickly, and evacuations may again become necessary.”