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article imageLocal man accused of setting massive Sierra foothills fire

By Nathan Salant     Sep 20, 2014 in Environment
Placerville - Authorities still have not explained why they think a 37-year-old man Pollock Pines, Calif., man deliberately set a massive forest fire that has burned nearly 100,000 acres of timber and threatens more than 10,000 homes.
Wayne Allen Huntsman was arraigned Friday on a felony arson charge in El Dorado County Superior Court in Placerville, Calif., and is being held in lieu of $10 million bail, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
He pleaded not guilty to a felony arson charge.
Huntsman, who in recent years also lived in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, was previously convicted of assault and grand theft in 1997, court records showed.
Smoke from the King Fire, which started last Saturday, has forced the temporary closure of sections of heavily traveled State Highway 50 between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe, and could be seen nearly 200 miles away late last week in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The fire is one of 11 major blazes still burning in drought-ravaged California, which has endured three years of below-average rainfall.
There have been around 6,000 wildfires in the state so far this year, the newspaper said.
On Thursday, strong winds pushed the flames north from the south fork of the American River through El Dorado National Forest despite the efforts of 4,000 firefighters brought in to fight the conflagration, the newspaper said.
The fire was only 5 percent contained on Thursday.
Firefighters had more success against other major blazes burning in the state, including the Courtney Fire in Madera County, south of Yosemite National Park, and the Boles Fire in Siskiyou County near the Oregon border.
Officials with the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reported Friday that the Courtney Fire was 70 percent contained and that the 479-acre Boles Fire, which destroyed or damaged 200 homes, was more than 90 percent contained.
Gov. Jerry Brown has declared emergencies in El Dorado and Siskiyou counties to speed up getting state and federal assistance to the fire-damaged areas, the newspaper said.
More about Arson, Crime, Pollock Pines, Sacrarmento, Fire
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