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The wildfires in Washington have ravished the state. A small farming town in Malden, Washington was almost destroyed by a fast-moving wildfire on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020.
According to the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office, roughly 80 percent of the town’s structures were burnt down by the fire. Malden is a small town located in eastern Washington state. There are roughly about 200 people living in the town.
The Devastating Loss
Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers made the statement of how devastating the loss is for the town. Myers truly hopes to find everyone in the community live and well as he prays everyone got out in time.
At this time the small agricultural town located about 35 miles south of Spokane — a region known as the Palouse — has reported no injuries from the fire.
According to officials, the fire is fueled by the 45 mph winds. Dry fields and standing timber are also attributed to the spread of the fire. Authorities have been going door to door and using public-address systems to have residents evacuate the areas.
Within a few hours of evacuating the residents of Malden, the fire has devoured the town. Devastating images of the fire have since been flooding the internet.
The unbelievably fast wildfire ravished most of the community’s homes, City Hall, Library, post office, and fire station.
More Fires Popping Up
Unfortunately, this is not the only devastation that Washington has seen. According to Washingon’s Public Land Commissioner Hilary Franz, “almost 300,000 acres” had burned on Labor Day.
The fire has caused thousands of residents to lose power. Many had to leave their homes in hopes the fire would skip their homes. Some were not fortunate enough and the fire destroyed their homes.
There are reports of “at least 80 fires started,” according to Spokane Public Radio. Authorities are still attempting to contact and account for all of the residents for Whitman County. The local emergency management agency, fire officials, and the sheriff’s office have been the ones trying to reach out to these residents.
Washington is expecting high winds for “the next two days,” Franz has announced. These conditions are extremely dangerous, due to the fact the winds will cause the fires to spread more. At this time most of Washington remains under red flag warnings.
Spokane Public Radio also reports that the Cold Springs Fire bolted 60 miles across both Okanogan and Douglas counties in only 20 hours.
Wildfire Fueled by Winds Cause Firefighting Efforts to Pause
The high winds drove the thick smoke and sand particles in the air caused officials to grounds all firefighting helicopters and planes. Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ fire manager Russ Lane said, “Really our actions are limited to keeping people out of harm’s way and working the edges of the fire best we can.”
Officials in Washington are urging their residents to avoid any activities that could cause sparks. These sparks could in fact ignite a new blaze. According to Fanz, They are continuing to see new fires popping up in “every corner of the state.”
She further stated that 90 percent of Washington’s wildfires have been started by humans. According to the National Weather Service, Washington is not the only state to be seeing “critical fire weather conditions.”
The Other States Experiencing Wildfires
These other states include Oregon, Arizona, Nevada, and parts of California. Add the ongoing heatwave with dry fuel — i.e. dry grass, fields, forests — sprinkle in high winds (that could gust above 60 mph) and boom perfect recipe for wildfires.
A fire that started in Okanogan County has led authorities there to order evacuations orders. However, due to many of the roads being rendered unsafe, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has urged people to take shelter at the Mansfield High School.
A large brush fire in the Bonny Lake and Sumner area has caused an evacuation order. There are reports of at least 20 fire engines and 60 workers battling the East Pierce Fire. They have since requested additional help from neighboring fire departments.
As the wildfires spread throughout Washington additional evacuation orders are to be expected. This is the worst wildfire experience that the state of Washington has had to face throughout all its history.
Written by Sheena Robertson
My North West: Smoke moves into Puget Sound region, as wildfires burn across Western Washington; Nick Bowman
NPR: Fast-Moving Wildfire Destroys 80% Of Small Town In Eastern Washington State
Fox News: Washington ‘firestorm’ destroys 80% of small town as wildfires rage in Pacific Northwest; Travis Fedschun
Inline Image Courtesy of Governor Jay & First Lady T’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Featured Image Courtesy of Bureau of Land Management Oregon and Washington’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License