U.S. 2 remains closed east of Gold Bar, Washington due to the Bolt Creek fire near Index, Washington on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald

U.S. 2 remains closed east of Gold Bar, Washington due to the Bolt Creek fire near Index, Washington on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald

Evacuation orders downgraded for Baring, Grotto as weather calms fire

Returning residents must come from the west. “We’re not letting anyone through that (Money Creek) tunnel area,” authorities said.

BARING — Residents of Baring and Grotto were allowed to return home Saturday, a week after the Bolt Creek fire forced them to flee.

Evacuation warnings for Baring, Grotto and Money Creek were downgraded on Saturday afternoon from Level 3 “go now” to Level 2 “be set to go.”

Returning residents must come from the west, said Ben Shearer, a spokesperson for the Northwest Incident Management Team.

“We’re not letting anyone through that (Money Creek) tunnel area,” he said. “We’ve lost a lot of trees, burning trees coming off that hillside.”

U.S. 2 remains closed to the general public east of Index-Galena Road through the weekend. Local highway access will be granted for residents who can show identification with a primary residence near Baring, Grotto or Money Creek.

Shearer said returning residents were asked to stay home and not wander around forest areas. There are still fire hot spots on the north side of U.S. 2 and crews working to put them out, he said.

On the east side, U.S. 2 remained closed at the intersection of North Fifth Street in Skykomish.

The threat of large trees and rocks tumbling onto the highway kept U.S. 2 closed through the weekend, even as cool weather has tempered the fire in recent days. Officials planned to meet late Monday morning to discuss reopening the highway.

The fire has held at roughly 9,440 acres since Wednesday, with 5% containment. One out-building has been damaged, and no injuries have been reported.

There were no additional changes to evacuation levels on Saturday. Index and Skykomish remained at Level 1 “be ready.”

On Saturday, Sky Valley residents reported wildfire smoke once again amid shifting winds.

“There is no present danger of fire advancing,” Sky Valley Fire said in a post to a community Facebook group. “Winds are expected to change back towards the East this afternoon improving air quality.”

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