Friday, October 7, 2022

Wildfire closes Stevens Pass, prompts evacuation order

Highway 2 over Stevens Pass is closed Saturday, from Galena Road to Beckler Road, because of a growing wildfire in the area.

The Bolt Creek fire, as it’s been named, was first reported early Saturday at 20 acres, but has rapidly grown to over 1,000 acres, according to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Spokesperson Ryan Rodruck said it is burning through timber in mountainous terrain.

A Level 3 evacuation order has been issued for the Beckler River Campground, just north of Skykomish, meaning anyone in the area should leave now, Washington State Patrol Trooper Anthony Reese said Saturday morning.

The town of Grotto, west of Skykomish, is under a Level 2 evacuation, meaning people should be packed and ready and to leave. The town of Index, farther west, is under Level 1 evacuation. Residents should consider planning and packing to leave, just in case.

The Department of Natural Resources has sent helicopters to the area, equipped to dump water on the fires. The fire is on the border of state and federal forest service lands and response will be coordinated between agencies.

Winds are expected to push smoke from the fire west toward Seattle, possibly degrading air quality to be unhealthy for all groups. Ash is blanketing areas as far south as Mill Creek and could soon fall on Seattle. The haze is likely to linger in Western Washington through Sunday.

The Bolt Creek fire adds to what has been a difficult week for fires in Western Washington. The Goat Rocks fire, near Packwood, in Lewis County, is now estimated to span 1,200 acres. Highway 12 from Skate Creek to White Pass is closed as a result. Highway 123 is also closed, from Highway 12 to Highway 410. Timberline, Goat Rocks and High Valley neighborhoods east of Packwood are under a Level 3 evacuation, while the remainder of Packwood is under a Level 2 evacuation.

The Kalama fire, southwest of Mount St. Helens, has spurred Level 3 evacuations from the border of Cowlitz and Lewis counties and the border of Skamania and Cowlitz counties. Residents can find more information on the US Forest Service’s website.

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