PLACERVILLE, Calif. (CBS SF) — A man with a long criminal history is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on charges that he set a huge wildfire still burning in El Dorado County.
California fire officials say the wind-whipped wildfire burned through 114 square miles of timber and vegetation east of Sacramento and has forced some 2,800 people from their homes. It is just 10 percent contained but had yet to damage or destroy any of the 12,000 homes and buildings threatned. Mandatory evacuations are still underway.
The suspect, 37-year-old Wayne Allen Huntsman, is being held on $10 million bail in El Dorado County Jail.
District Attorney Vern Pierson declined to say what led investigators to Huntsman. Investigators were in contact with Huntsman before his arrest Wednesday night in Placerville.
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Huntsman’s sister, Tami Criswell, said she doubts her brother started the fire, but if he did, it wasn’t on purpose.
More than 4,000 firefighters are on the front lines of the massive fire racing through rugged canyons. There is a huge and ominous plume of smoke coming from this fire, now the length of Colorado. Shifting winds are pushing the fire in all directions as the fire continues to consumer brittle vegetation and extremely dry trees from the drought.
“Fires are spotting over a mile ahead of the main fire,” said Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott. “That means the embers that come out of these fires. The smoke column are lofted and go way out into the unburned area and start a fire.”
Cal Fire says it’s costing $5 million a day to fight the King Fire. They’re calling for help from all over the country. Firefighters are now coming in from as far away as the East Coast.
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