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article imageFirefighters report gains against California's giant King fire

By Nathan Salant     Sep 24, 2014 in Environment
Pollock Pines - Firefighters in California appeared to be winning the race this week to contain the huge King fire consuming forest and threatening thousands of homes in the Sierra foothills, but shifting winds could imperil recent gains.
Cooler temperatures and rising humidity helped dampen the spread of the giant blaze, which grew in less than a week to encompass 90,000 acres north of Pollock Pines.
More than 7,000 firefighters from California and Nevada are helping to battle the flames, which have already destroyed 10 homes and 22 outbuildings but caused no reported injuries, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
The fire,was estimated to be 35 percent contained as of Tuesday as the threat to communities along Highway 50 near Lake Tahoe receded, the newspaper said.
Officials say the fire was started deliberately Sept. 13 by a 37-year-old Pollock Pines resident who has been arrested and charged with arson.
But Wayne Allen Huntsman has pleaded innocent in El Dorado Superior Court in Placerville, Calif.
Huntsman is being held in lieu of $10 million bail, the newspaper said.
Battalion Chief Scott McLean.of the California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection told the newspaper that firefighters were watching the weather as higher temperatures and stronger winds are predicted in the next few days.
“We can’t be complacent,” McLean said.
“We need to take care of all the hot spots -- we’re going to be tested today and tomorrow," he said.
Thousands of homes still are considered threatened from Pollock Pines north in a boot-shaped area running toward Lake Tahoe, officials said.
“The top of the boot has some fire in it, and the heel has some flames, as well as up the flanks,” McLean said.
“But it’s nowhere as bad as it was,” he added.
CalFire says there have been nearly 5,000 fires so far this year in California and more are expected as the state begins what could be its fourth consecutive year of drought.
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