MALDEN, Wash. (AP) — Five months after a wildfire destroyed the adjacent towns of Malden and Pine City, President Joe Biden has approved federal aid for the towns and for other areas in Eastern Washington burned by fires last year.
Former President Donald Trump had declined to release the funds earlier because of a long-standing dispute with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.
More than 85% of the buildings in Malden and Pine City, both located in rural Whitman County, burned to the ground in the Babb Road Fire. Residents have not been able to clean up or rebuild since the wildfire that began last Labor Day.
Democratic Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, along with Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, were among those who urged Biden to sign Inslee’s September request for a statewide Major Disaster Declaration.
Biden granted the request on Thursday, triggering the release of funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide disaster relief for nine counties and two tribes in Eastern Washington that were affected by the wildfires.
Cantwell released a statement Thursday saying that no one should play politics with disaster relief.