Environment & Science

King Fire: Suspect arrested for arson as wildfire more than doubles in size

A firefighter monitors a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
A firefighter monitors a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A firefighter monitors a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
A booking photo shows Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, who was arrested on suspicion of intentionally setting the King Fire, which has scorched more than 100 square miles east of Sacramento.
El Dorado County Sheriff's Department
A firefighter monitors a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Flames from the King Fire consumes trees on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A firefighter monitors a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
A firefighter pulls hose into place to monitor a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A firefighter monitors a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Firefighters monitor a backfire as they battle the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A firefighter monitors a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
A firefighter monitors a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A firefighter monitors a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Firefighters monitor a backfire as they battle the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A firefighter monitors a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Firefighters monitor a backfire as they battle the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A firefighter monitors a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
A firefighter uses a drip torch to start a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A firefighter monitors a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
A firefighter monitors the King Fire as it burns through brush on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A firefighter monitors a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
A firefighter walks through smoke from the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A firefighter monitors a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
A firefighting helicopter collects water from a reservoir to fight the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Pollock Pines, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A firefighter monitors a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
A firefighting helicopter flies by smoke from the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Pollock Pines, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
A firefighter monitors a backfire as he battles the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Fresh Pond, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
An air tanker drops Foscheck fire retardant on a hillside ahead of the King Fire on September 17, 2014 in Pollock Pines, California. The King fire is threatening over 1,600 homes in the forested area about an hour east of Sacramento and has consumed over 18,544 acres. The out of control fire is 5 percent contained.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images


11:30 a.m.: Arson suspect arrested in massive King Fire

A suspect has been arrested on suspicion of intentionally starting the massive King Fire east of Sacramento, which more than doubled in size overnight and threatens more than 2,000 homes.

Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, was booked for arson on forest land Wednesday with bail set at $10 million, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff's Department.

The district attorney's office confirmed to KPCC the arrest was related to the King Fire.

— KPCC staff

7:40 a.m.: Wildfire more than doubles in size; thousands of homes threatened

An out-of-control wildfire that was threatening more than 2,000 homes in Northern California showed explosive growth, consuming tens of thousands of additional acres, fire officials said Thursday.

King Fire

The fire east of Sacramento had burned through 111 square miles, up from 44 square miles on Wednesday when it forced additional evacuations, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It was only 5 percent contained.

Most of the threatened homes were in Pollock Pines, 60 miles east of Sacramento. Hundreds of them were under evacuation orders, but it wasn't immediately clear exactly how many.

Much of the fire growth on Wednesday was to the northwest, away from the town, according to Cal Fire.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency late Wednesday, freeing up funds for the two fires. Brown had also secured federal grants to fight each of them.

Fire crews might get some help from the weather on Thursday, with the forecast calling for higher humidity and the possibility of rain.

Meanwhile, further north in the town of Weed, where a blaze began Monday and raged across the community, teams of firefighters went house-to-house Wednesday to pin down damage by a wildfire that officials estimated had destroyed 110 homes and damaged another 90.

Boles Fire

The new figures were a marked increase from the initial estimate that a total of 150 structures had been destroyed or damaged in the blaze that rapidly swept across the town. Four firefighters lost their homes.

Two churches, a community center and the library also burned to the ground, while an elementary school and the city's last wood-products mill were damaged by flames that had been pushed by 40-mph winds.

Insurance companies worked to find places to live for the people who lost their homes.

The cause of the blaze was under investigation. It was 60 percent contained after burning 375 acres.

Burned neighborhoods remained off-limits, but people have been finding ways in.

The Rev. Bill Hofer, pastor of Weed Berean Church, said power was back on in his home, which was still standing on the edge of the devastation zone, and he was planning to return Wednesday night — despite the evacuation order — to deter vandalism.

"The more people home with the lights on, the better," he said.

— Associated Press