Malden, Pine City still asking for federal aid after devastating fires

State representative requests president approve major disaster declaration



Three fires destroyed over 80 percent of Malden and over 50 percent of the buildings in Pine City.

JAYCE CARRAL, Evergreen reporter

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers wrote a letter to recently-inaugurated President Joe Biden asking him to approve a major disaster declaration, which would provide relief for towns in Whitman County that experienced three major fires beginning Sept. 7. 

The three fires — Babb Road Fire, Manning Fire and the Colfax fire — destroyed over 80 percent of Malden and over 50 percent of buildings in Pine City, according to an Evergreen article

“My team and I have sought relief for these communities, but individuals, families and businesses are still waiting,” McMorris Rodgers wrote in the Jan. 22 letter

On Sept. 16, Gov. Jay Inslee asked then-President Donald Trump to declare the Babb Road Fire a major disaster, which would allow cities to access millions in aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to The Spokesman Review

Malden and Pine City leaders wrote a letter to Trump on Dec. 8 asking him to make a disaster declaration and requesting public and individual assistance, according to a KREM article. The cities applied for assistance in mid-September. 

Sen. Patty Murray and other state lawmakers also drafted several letters between September and December in support of Inslee’s request for relief. 

Trump allegedly withheld relief from Whitman County because of his “personal animosity” toward Inslee, according to The Spokesman Review

The Federal Emergency Management Agency approved a request for federal Fire Management Assistance Grants on Sept. 13, according to a FEMA press release. The request was not approved by Trump.

Malden officials and residents are hopeful Biden will quickly approve their requests, according to an Evergreen article

Local organizations including United Way of Whitman County, Rosalia Lions Club and Colfax Eagles provided aid for affected residents, according to an Evergreen article. Donations are still being accepted by the Whitman County Fire Community Relief Fund

Pullman City Council members approved $100,000 in relief for Malden and Pine City in December, according to an Evergreen article. The funds will be distributed over a two-year period.