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Wildfire destroys 80% of an Eastern Washington State town

Remains of a burned building from fast moving fire in Malden, WA (courtesy Whitman County Sheriff's Office)

The small farming town of Malden in eastern Washington state was decimated by a fast moving wildfire on Monday. High winds created something official described as a firestorm.

Malden sits 35 miles south of Spokane in an agricultural region called the Palouse. There are 200 residents in Malden.

The Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers said in a statement, "The scale of this disaster really can't be expressed in words. 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."

As of the writing of this article, there have been no reports of injuries from the fire.

According to officials, high winds of up to 45 mph, standing timber and dry fields fueled this fire. The town has lost its fire station, post office, City Hall, library and most of the homes. The damage was done within hours.

“When we got information that fire started, there were 40 or 50 mph winds,” Myers said. “By the time we had law enforcement in town to evacuate, the fire was at city limits, and within 20 minutes, it was consuming homes.”

Sheriff Myers said he believed all residents were able to evacuate but was not entirely sure. “The fire was too hot and too quick to even get a count,” he said.

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