POLLOCK PINES (KCBS) — Cal Fire officials say the rapid spread of the King Fire near Pollock Pines is exactly what they had worried about as California had become ground zero for the worst fires in the country and the drought rolls into its third year.
Since the King Fire erupted last Saturday has burned 76,376 acres and is only 10 percent contained; it has raced more than 25 miles across three major river drainages and is quickly approaching the western side of the Sierra Crest.
“Fires are spotting over a mile ahead of the main fire. That means that the embers that come out of these fires—the smoke column—they are lofted and they go way out into the unburned area, land and start a fire,” Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott told KCBS.
He said the drought is largely to blame for the extreme spread of the flames.
“We measure the moisture and fuels throughout the year and we are seeing record low moisture contents and we’re seeing record high potentials for heat and energy from those,” Pimlott said.
“I can tell you, hands down, that talking to all the fire professionals are the state—from all of the state agencies that have been fighting these fire all year—unprecedented conditions.”
Pimlott said the state is getting help from all across the nation.
“Many other areas in the country have subsided in terms of fire-season conditions and so we are collectively putting all available resources into California to combat this this threat,” he said.
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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.
Firefighters assisting are coming from as far away as Alaska, Arkansas and North Carolina.
Cal Fire says it’s costing $5 million a day to fight the King Fire.
That’s forced some 2,800 people from their homes. While it’s yet to damage or destroy any of the 12,000 homes and buildings threatened, mandatory evacuations are still underway.