Emergency officials preparing for possible landslides near Bolt Creek Fire burn areas

The Bolt Creek Fire has stopped burning, but what’s left behind still poses a danger along Highway 2. King County Executive Dow Constantine, along with representatives from emergency management and the National Weather Service, warned of an increased risk of debris flows along Stevens Pass.

Burnt trees, singed vegetation, rocks and dirt now have little to cling to. These dried-up slope slides have become a landscape prime for flash-flooding and mudslides.

“This is not a new hazard for the United States, but this is a new hazard for us in Western Washington,” said Reid Wolcott, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Most of the locations that have fires this severe don’t deal with the type of long-range atmospheric river events we have.”

USGS has identified the towns of Baring and Grotto along Highway 2 as most at risk. King County officials estimate roughly 300 homes west of Stevens Pass could be threatened.

“Flood and debris flow can happen quickly, within minutes of rainfall, so get ready now,” said Brendan McCluskey, Director of King County Emergency Management.

Constantine says debris flow will remain a risk throughout that area for the next two to five years, as it will take time for vegetation to regrow in the 15,000 acres consumed by the Bolt Creek Fire.

“Now you might think this is not an unusual thing, but we don’t often have a fire of this magnitude on the west side of the mountains, these happen in drier areas,” said Constantine.