Whitman County Sheriff’s Office / Facebook
Almost every structure in the small farming town of Malden, east Washington state, was destroyed by a rapid fire on Monday as high winds created what officials called a firestorm.
According to the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office, 80% of the city’s structures have been destroyed. The town of about 200 residents is 35 miles south of Spokane in an agricultural region known as Palouse.
“The extent of this disaster really cannot be expressed in words,” Whitman County’s sheriff Brett Myers said in a statement. “The fire will be put out, but a church has changed a lifetime. I just hope we don’t find that the fire cost more than houses and buildings. I pray everyone got out in time.”
There were no reports of injuries as of early Tuesday.
Officials said the fire was fueled by high winds up to 45 miles per hour, standing wood, and dry fields. MPs went door-to-door using PA systems in their patrol cars to urge residents to evacuate immediately. Most of the small town burned down within a few hours.
Myers said he believed all of the area’s residents were safely evacuated but reportedly unsure The speaker rating.
“The fire was too hot and too fast to even be counted,” Myers said.
Whitman County’s Emergency Management, Sheriff’s Office, and Fire Incident Command will inventory buildings and attempt to contact and consider all residents on Tuesday.