A suspect has been arrested and charged with arson, and is currently in custody, for deliberately setting the California wildfire that has come to be known as the King Fire, which is currently burning about 40 miles northeast of Lake Tahoe.
Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, has been charged with one count of arson on forest land. He’s currently detained in the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office jail in Placerville, California, on $10 million bail, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.
In California, arson can be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony, according to Shouse Law, depending upon a variety of factors. As of this post, the King Fire has not caused any injuries, deaths, or property damage, so the California arson suspect may currently only be facing misdemeanor charges.
El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson said that the arson suspect has lived in Santa Cruz and, most recently, in Pollock Pines. He was arrested near Placerville, and is scheduled to be arraigned at 1 p.m. Pacific Time today.
“We expect that that investigation will be ongoing in the near future.”
The King Fire is one of the largest of the nearly 30 wildfires currently burning across California, according to Capital Public Radio. As of this post, it’s burned nearly 75,000 acres — more than half the size of Lake Tahoe, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal — and is only 10 percent contained, with some 3,000 firefighters on the scene. California’s record three-year drought has caused much of the wilderness in California to be “tinder dry. Unpredictable winds and the steep canyons in the area also prevent firefighters from containing the blaze.
The wildfire is currently threatening 12,000 homes and 9,000 other structures. It has also shut down Highway 50 east of Pollock Pines, and caused school to be cancelled at nearby Silver Fork Elementary School. Sacramento Fire Department spokesperson Michelle Eidam told KCRA that the King Fire is one of the worst she’s ever seen.
“It is extreme fire behavior. All bets are off right now because this fire is so volatile.”
The fire has sent plumes of smoke so high that they could be seen in Palo Alto, nearly 140 miles away.
Pollock Pines “King Fire” pyrocumulus at sunset taken from Skyline above Palo Alto about 140 miles away. pic.twitter.com/m79JUCdEq1
— Jan Null (@ggweather) September 18, 2014
California is currently in the midst of a “historic” drought that has gotten so bad, according to this Inquisitr report, that the shrinking water supplies are literally causing the Earth to rise. The drought has caused a record number of wildfires this season, including the King Fire, and no relief is in sight.
As of this post, police have not released a possible motive for the arson suspect.
[Image courtesy of: The Atlantic]