Story at a glance

  • The town of about 200 people is 35 miles south of Spokane.
  • Authorities said the wildfire moved into the town at high speeds from the north around noon and was fueled by extremely high winds, standing timber and dry fields.
  • “The scale of this disaster really can’t be expressed in words,” Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers said.

A fast-moving wildfire fueled by extremely high winds left almost every structure in the small town of Malden, Wash., in ruins within hours on Monday, according to local officials. 

The Whitman County Sheriff’s Office said an estimated 80 percent of the homes and structures in Malden, which is about 35 miles south of Spokane, were completely destroyed, including the fire station, post office, city hall, library and other prominent structures. 


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Emergency crews are working to take an inventory of the damage and account for residents who were in their homes when the firestorm hit. No deaths or injuries have been reported at this time. The Whitman County Commissioners declared a State of Emergency this morning. 

“The scale of this disaster really can’t be expressed in words,” Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers said in a statement. “The fire will be extinguished, but a community has been changed for a lifetime. I just hope we don’t find the fire took more than homes and buildings. I pray everyone got out in time. 

Authorities said the wildfire moved into the town at high speeds from the north around noon and was fueled by extremely high winds, standing timber and dry fields. Members of the Sheriff’s Office began evacuating residents by going door to door. 

Malden is a town of about 200 people. 

The small town was not alone in experiencing dangerous fires on Labor Day. Several areas in central and eastern Washington saw hundreds of thousands of acres burned, and Red Flag warnings are in effect for most of the state. 

“Today alone, almost 300,000 acres in Washington have burned,” Washington Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz said overnight. “Thousands of homes are without power. Many families have had to evacuate their homes and many homes have been lost. We're still seeing new fire starts in every corner of the state.” 

Published on Sep 08, 2020