MALDEN, Wash. — Washington Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz delivered a fire engine to Malden on Thursday, replacing the town's only firetruck that was lost in the Labor Day wildfire.
The Babb Road fire destroyed the entire town, damaging about 80 percent of homes in both Malden and Pine City.
In September, Franz toured Malden with its former mayor. That day, she made a promise that Malden would get another fire truck.
She made good on that promise Thursday when she handed Malden Mayor Dan Harwood the keys to a shiny, red fire engine.
"To be able to bring the fire truck to this community so the next one that hits, you guys are more positioned the better," Franz said. "But you're not ever going to be alone. DNR will be here for you. We're family."
Mayor Harwood was at the fire station the day the Babb Road Fire ripped through the town.
"I was putting fire out alongside our station," Harwood said. "The flames were there, and the sheriff's department recommended that I vacate the area. So, I was truly the last one to use our fire truck."
Harwood said he is humbled to receive the 2002 fire engine on behalf of Malden.
"A Christmas fire truck? Not many kids actually get that," Harwood said. "I'm back being 12 years old again. Thank you so very much."
While the community has made progress, there's still many steps ahead to rebuild Malden.
In fact, the community is still waiting on FEMA funding, something Commissioner Franz said should not have taken this long to grant.
"Of all the communities that should be getting those resources, it is towns like Malden. It is Malden," Franz said. "My understanding is other communities throughout the country have gotten their resources in Oregon and California, even Texas just got resources, for a community that was behind Malden in their request."
Along with Washington's congressional delegation, Franz plans to also reach out to make sure FEMA resources come soon.
Meanwhile, Mayor Harwood said the community will press on.
"This is what brings hope to all of us, for the kids and the families that lost homes in the fire," Harwood said.