Man, 37, suspected of starting King Fire; bail set at $10 million
TRUCKEE, Calif. — A man has been arrested on suspicion of deliberately setting the King Fire.
Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, of Pollock Pines, Calif., has been charged with arson. He is being held in El Dorado County Jail on $10 million bail.
Calfire and U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officers, in conjunction with the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office and El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, arrested Huntsman Wednesday.
“Federal, state and local law enforcement officers work diligently in arson cases to aggressively investigate and prosecute those suspected of intentionally starting fires,” Calfire officials said in a statement.
Huntsman is charged with one count of arson of forest land for willfully and maliciously setting a fire, according to a criminal complaint.
He also faces a special allegation of arson with aggravating factors, according to the Associated Press, because the blaze put a dozen firefighters in serious danger, forcing them to deploy their fire shields. They all escaped unharmed.
El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson reportedly declined to say what led investigators to Huntsman, who was scheduled to be arraigned Friday. He also would not comment on a possible motive, saying the investigation was ongoing.
The King Fire has burned more than 70,000 acres near Pollock Pines, roughly an hour or so west of South Lake Tahoe, and is threatening thousands of homes.
California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a State of Emergency in El Dorado County. According to Calfire, he’s secured federal funding to help with the cost of fighting the fire which has exceeded $10 million as of Thursday.