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Bolt Creek Fire impacts will be felt for years to come

The state Department of Natural Resources warns of landslides and flash floods for the foreseeable future.

SKYKOMISH, Wash. — Crews are finally heading home from the Bolt Creek Fire, after battling the smoke and flames for more than a month. However, people living there are still far from out of the woods. 

It's back to business as usual at LouSki's Deli.

Receipts have been off 75% since the wildfire started 42 days ago -- choking the Skykomish Valley with the worst air quality on the planet.

But today, owner Glenn Eburn can finally exhale.

"I'm relieved," he says. "It's nice to look around, see the mountains and be able to breathe fresh air."

Businesses across the tourist-dependent valley suffered greatly as the fire closed Highway 2 for weeks with charred trees falling across the road.

Businesses missed out on four weeks of hiking season, as well as some of the annual Oktoberfest in Leavenworth.  

Today, wounds from the wildfire lay bare for all to see.

Fallen trees sit next to the mangled guardrails they smashed

Scars on the landscape will last for years.

A new Department of Natural Resources report on the fire warns that because so many trees have burned, there will likely be flash floods, landslides and falling trees "for several years after the fire."

"Nobody really knows exactly what the ground is going to be like with all of the timber that's burned," says Eburn.

That worries Skykomish Mayor Henry Sladek, who runs a local inn.

He's concerned that landslides could close Highway 2 to the west and avalanches at Stevens Pass could close it to the east this winter, trapping townspeople for weeks.

A state Department of Transportation sign is warning travelers to watch for floods and slides between mileposts 38 and 50.

The department is telling locals to be prepared to be stranded for up to two weeks.

"We've been in touch with emergency managers making plans for things like getting food, water, fuel supplies and stuff like that for extended periods of time," says Mayor Sladek.

For now, townsfolk are simply happy the skies have cleared, but at the same time those skies reveal the first snow of the year atop the Cascades.

Wildfire season has come and gone, with winter fast approaching.

'We're stocked here at the deli," says Eburn. "We've stocked up at the house. We're ready to go."

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