A year after fire destroyed Malden, a grieving town slowly rebuilds

Published by
The Seattle Times

MALDEN, Wash. — Laura Rankin watched a mushroom cloud of smoke balloon from her kitchen window the day fire came. The sky turned gray and wind swirled unnaturally from the east while birds flew frantically. Smoke and dust blotted out the early afternoon sun above this tiny former railroad town surrounded by tall pine trees and rolling, brittle yellow wheat fields just south of Spokane. Tree branches swung in the opposite direction and 60 mile-an-hour winds slammed against the wrong side of her house, as if the town had been flipped like a snow globe. Rankin’s garden — 6-foot-tall hedges and ro…

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