Emergency Declared: King Wildfire Doubled Overnight

A state of emergency has been declared for El Dorado and Siskiyou counties in California.. The counties have been severely affected by the King and Boles wildfires, respectively.

The King wildfire more than doubled in size overnight. It jumped from affecting 27,930 acres to approximately 71,000 acres by Thursday morning. Over 2,000 homes and 1,500 other buildings have been threatened by the growing fire.

Although 3,300 firefighters have been assigned to the wildfire, it is still only 5% controlled as of this morning.

The El Dorado National Forest, northeast of Sacramento, has taken the brunt of the wildfire’s damage and firefighters are concerned that it may get worse.

“There is a high potential for extreme fire behavior today. Although the predicted temperatures are slightly lower and the humidity slightly higher, the winds are expected to be as strong, or stronger, than yesterday,” the U.S. Forest Service said.

The horrific speed of the King wildfire can be attributed not only to the drought California has suffered, but also to high winds.

“The key take-away from the King fire is the speed with which wildfires can move,” said Char Miller, director of the environmental analysis program at Pomona College. “And its speed signals that wind – and not just low humidity and tinder-dry forests – is the defining energy of these dangerous blazes.”

Ron Steffens, from Wildfire Magazine, added, “The depth of the drought means that nearly all the fuels are available to burn, and burn with greater intensity and speed as it moves into more fuels… The first priority is safety: To be ready to leave the fire zone if your community is threatened. And to be certain that firefighters protect their own safety.”

Many of the fires that have affected California during this wildfire season have been caused by lightning strikes. However, the King fire seems to be the result of arson.

Wayne Allen Huntsman

Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, was arrested and booked for arson in connection with the King wildfire. His bail is set at $10 million dollars as stated by the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department.

The Red Cross has been on site to aid people evacuated from their homes.

They released a tweet on Wednesday thanking people for their help, but announcing that they did not have the capability to accept donated food or clothing in reference to the King and Boles fires.

Other tweets by RedCrossCRC show how the organization is helping the firefighters and affected people.

[ Images courtesy of LA Times, Daily News ]