The Whitman County Sheriff’s Office is reporting that about 80% of the homes and structures in Malden were destroyed in today’s firestorm.
The agency reports that the fire is believed to have started in the Babb Road area in Southern Spokane County. High winds sent the flames into Whitman County and into Malden. The town’s post office, city hall, library, fire station, the old gas station, and most of the homes in town were destroyed. Deputies went door to door and used vehicle PA systems to get residents of Malden out of town while the fast-moving fire was approaching.
The sheriff’s office reports that the community of Pine City West of Malden was the next community ravaged by the flames. Many homes and structures were destroyed in Pine City.
At sunset, the fire had burned several miles moving Southwest toward the Ewan area West of Saint John.
Aircraft were unable to fight the flames from above because of the high winds.
The fire has been state mobilized with units from around Washington responding to the scene. According to officials in Olympia, the Babb Road Fire started around Noon today.
The Whitman County Commissioners are expected to declare a state of emergency tomorrow morning.