State Route 530 has been closed to the public since Friday due to a slow-moving landslide, but Tuesday afternoon Darrington Fire District 24 announced first responders would no longer be using the road either until WSDOT declares it safe.
“If the highway is not safe for the public to pass though, why should it be safe for our first responders?” Capt. Jeff McClelland said. “If they say there’s a chance it could move, we don’t want to put our people through that.”
Darrington Fire District 24 released a temporary modified response plan, stating volunteer responders and staff would not be allowed to travel through a closed section of 530. The slide zone is about 300 feet above the road and one mile down from the Oso slide occurred in 2014. Eleven homes are currently under voluntary evacuation.
Any ambulances transporting patients who need basic life support will have to take the long way – Highway 20 – to get to the hospital.
“It’s going to take us approximately an hour, maybe a little over,” McClelland said, explaining medical helicopters and mutual aid from Skagit County will both be on standby for life-threatening situations.
“We don’t want to pick up a patient and say we’re going through the slide and have them more stressed out medically when they’re already having medical problems,” he said.
Geologists said the slide has not moved since the weekend; however, they continue to monitor the area because more rain is forecasted later this week.
WSDOT has closed SR 530 until at least Thursday.
Darrington Fire District 24 says they will reevaluate the special plan when they obtain more information from WSDOT.