Hikers who escaped from Bolt Creek Fire documented, and now explain the ordeal

The predicted weather will slow the spread of the fire the rest of this week

8:45 a.m. PDT Sept. 13, 2022

Bolt Creek Fire hikers escape
Bolt Creek Fire Sept. 10, 2022. Image from Path Least Taken video

The two hikers who found themselves nearly entrapped by the rapidly spreading Bolt Creek Fire in northwest Washington near Skykomish have posted a video describing how they escaped.

After nearly reaching their goal of the top of Baring Mountain on Saturday September 10, they realized the smoke noticed earlier was from a fire that started that morning and had become a threat to their lives. The two of them shot video off and on during the entire hike, and on Sunday “Path Least Taken” posted an expertly-edited version on YouTube. He explained that he debated about publishing it, but did so “as an educational tool to point out all of the mistakes we made that ended up putting our lives in danger.”

During the escape they used wayfaring skills and technology tools to figure out how to descend the very steep slopes while avoiding the fire, which was at times exhibiting extreme flame lengths many times the heights of the trees, as you can see in the above image from their video.

When the Bolt Creek Fire was mapped Monday evening it had burned about 9,400 acres. In several places it has spread downhill nearly to US Highway 2. The fire activity was very much diminished Monday by much higher relative humidity. A weather station at Index northwest of the fire recorded very light winds Monday with the RH ranging from 57 to 92 percent, conditions not conducive to rapid fire spread.

Bolt Creek Fire 3-D map
Bolt Creek Fire 3-D map, looking NNW at 7:41 p.m. Sept. 12, 2022.

“It’s been a good day today for firefighters,” said Jim Cahill, a Washington State Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Monday evening.

As of Monday night US Highway 2 was closed from Milepost 32 to Milepost 50 and the community of Index was under a “Go Now” evacuation order.

The spot weather forecast for Tuesday predicts temperatures around 60 degrees, minimum RH of 87 percent, and light winds becoming 5 to 6 mph in the afternoon out of the northwest. Tuesday night the RH will rise to 100 percent and drop to only 86 percent on Wednesday. On Monday and Tuesday there is a 13 to 16 percent chance of very light rain, about 0.03″. The humidity is expected to remain mostly in the 80s and 90s through Sunday. The fire will not spread rapidly under these predicted conditions.

Bolt Creek Fire map
Bolt Creek Fire map. The red line was the perimeter at 7:41 p.m. Sept. 12, 2022. The white line was the perimeter about 48 hours previously.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Patrick.

New fire pushes smoke into northwest Washington

The Bolt Creek Fire near Skykomish is growing rapidly

Updated 8:50 a.m. PDT Sept. 11, 2022

Bolt Creek Fire map at 8:21 pm Sept. 10, 2022
Bolt Creek Fire, mapped by a fixed wing aircraft at 8:21 pm Sept. 10, 2022

The Bolt Creek Fire 42 miles north-northeast of Seattle is producing smoke that is moving into Everett and Bellingham. The fire spread eight miles to the northwest after it started Saturday near Skykomish off US Highway 2. So far it has remained north of the highway as it burned past Grotto and Baring. A US Forest Service mapping flight Saturday night determined it had blackened about 7,660 acres and was 3 miles southeast of Index. This data from a fixed wing aircraft is much more accurate than some of the maps being posted on social media.

To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Bolt Creek Fire, including the most recent, click HERE.

An 18-mile corridor of Highway 2 remains closed and evacuations are in effect. Snohomish County has the details.

This kind of wildfire activity is exceptionally rare for the western slopes of the central Cascades in Washington.

Satellite photo, Bolt Creek and Cedar Creek fires Sept. 10, 2022
Satellite photo, Bolt Creek (on the north) and Cedar Creek fires Sept. 10, 2022. Processed by Pierre Markuse.

Two hikers that were on the mountain had a harrowing escape from the fire. They called 911 and were told it was too dangerous to rescue them by helicopter, but eventually after scrambling down steep terrain they made it out of danger. (Update, Sept. 13, 2022: the hikers documented their escape from the fire.)

3:47 p.m. PDT Sept. 10, 2022

Bolt Creek Fire near Skykomish, Washington at 1:54 p.m. PDT September 10, 2022
The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite on the Bolt Creek Fire near Skykomish, Washington at 1:54 p.m. PDT September 10, 2022. The extent of heat displayed may be exaggerated. The fire, at that time, may not have been as large as depicted here.

Several wildfires are pushing smoke into western Oregon and Washington. The Bolt Creek Fire, which started Saturday in northwest Washington near Skykomish off US Highway 2 is growing very quickly. It is producing a great deal of smoke blowing to the northwest toward Everett and Bellingham.

Bolt Creek Fire, September 10, 2022. Washington State DNR.
Bolt Creek Fire, September 10, 2022. Washington State DNR.

Our very, very rough estimate of the size, based on the imprecise satellite heat data, is that the Bolt Creek Fire had burned more than 2,500 acres by 1:54 p.m. PDT Saturday.

Satellite photo showing smoke from fires in Washington and Oregon
Satellite photo showing smoke from fires in Washington and Oregon, 2:21 PDT Sept. 10, 2022.

A section of Highway 2 is closed.

Snohomish County has evacuation information about the Bolt Creek Fire.

A fire south of Mount Rainier National Park, the Goat Rocks Fire, is also producing smoke, but it is heading generally west to the Centralia area. As of Friday it had burned about 1,500 acres.

The smoke from a very large fire that has been burning since August 1 in west-central Oregon, the Cedar Creek Fire, is sending smoke into Washington. The Washington State DNR said today that smoke from that 35,000-acre fire is being lofted to higher altitudes and is not expected to contribute significantly to further reductions in air quality at ground level. It will actually help keep temperatures down a few degrees Saturday afternoon, they said, and limit the minimum relative humidity values experienced in the Puget Lowlands.

Bolt Creek Fire, September 10, 2022. Washington State DNR.
Bolt Creek Fire, September 10, 2022. Washington State DNR.