Weekend Rain Could Dampen Bolt Creek Fire but Create more Hazards for U.S. Hwy 2
The forecast for cooler temperatures and rain which could dampen or even extinguish the Bolt Creek Fire this weekend is certainly welcome news. But the scheduled precipitation could also bring yet another dark cloud to an area that’s already endured suffocating smoke and dozens of closures to its main roadway – U.S. Highway 2 - over the past six weeks.
The freshly-scorched landscape created by the fire is now far more susceptible to landslides and flooding, and officials with both the National Weather Service and the Washington Department of Transportation (DOT) are warning of the possibility that both could occur if the expected rains provide enough saturation.
DOT spokesperson, R.B. McKeon, says it’s difficult to predict where any slides or flooding might occur, since the area in question has no historical context for such an event.
“There’s no real precedent on this side of the mountains for a situation like this. Our partners at the National Weather Service are giving us the best information and predictions they can. But we just don’t know what could or will come down onto the road.”
The DOT has been removing hazardous trees and performing supplemental maintenance on and around U.S. Highway 2 since the fire was first reported on September 10.
McKeon says crews have stepped up those efforts ahead of the forecasted rain and will be prepared should anything come down on the roadway.
“Our crews are ready. They’re all on standby and have equipment stationed in and around several recent closure points, along with folks who are ready to begin removal of debris and clearing of the roadway should we have a landslide.”
McKeon adds that if any slides do occur it might force the highway to close for at least 24 to 48 hours or even longer.
The DOT says U.S. 2 is safe to travel and they are not officially recommending that drivers use an alternate route. However, McKeon says both I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass and State Route 20 are open and viable options for crossing the Cascades if a closure of U.S. 2 does occur.