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King Fire Friday Update: Size, Containment Grows Overnight
10:05 P.M. Fire officials say they will not update the acreage report of the King Fire until Saturday morning. They also confirm that structures have been damaged or destroyed, but have not done full damage assessment to determine number of structures affected.
There are 4,936 personnel on the incident, which started Sept. 13.
#KingFire Currently assigned resources;136 hand crews; ;377 engines 74 dozers; 78 water tenders; 17 helicopters; Total personnel 4,936— CA IMT 1 - FIRE INFO (@Info_CIIMT1) September 20, 2014
7 A.M. About 12,000 homes are now threatened by the King Fire burning in Pollock Pines. The fire has burned 76,376 acres.
Hwy 50 reopened at 3:30 am all lanes eastbound open , westbound #2 lane closed for fire equipment.— Caltrans District 3 (@D3PIO) September 19, 2014
Thursday's lower temperatures, higher humidity and cloud cover helped increase containment to 10 percent.
And a man has been arrested in connection with the fire. El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson has charged Allen Wayne Huntsman with setting a fire that caused an injury to a first-responder.
"Literally within minutes, of the fire being discovered, there was a very, very experienced investigator that was on scene," says Pierson. "And then there was a significant cooperation between both state, federal, and local law enforcement."
The fire is burning in three watersheds in terrain that is not easy to navigate. Randy Deal is on a water tender crew.
"It's pretty thick underbrush and pine trees on top. And pine trees light up like a match," says Deal.
Firefighters from as far away as Maryland are fighting the fire.
Because of the King Fire, the U.S. Forest Service has closed the Eldorado National Forest from U.S. 50 to the boundary of the Tahoe National Forest.
Mike Kaslin with the Cal Fire Amador County unit says the front of the fire is now about 14 miles west of Lake Tahoe.
"That area is fairly remote and we are sending resources up there to continue to flank it," says Kaslin. "But, the lion's share of our efforts are still going to be on the south end where the infrastructure -the homes and residences are."
More than 4,400 firefighters are now working the fire.
Huntsman is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on charges that he set a huge wildfire still burning in Northern California.
According to the Associated Press, Huntsman's sister, Tami Criswell, said she doubts her brother started the fire, but if he did, it wasn't on purpose.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The King Fire has cost more than $ 10 million to fight so far -- and it's one of nearly a dozen fires burning in California.
Since July 1 California has spent more than $190 million fighting fires. The state budgeted $209 million for the entire fiscal year. It will dip into reserves when it surpasses that amount.
Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in the area.
Cal Fire Unit Chief Mike Kaslin says it’s been an unusually active fire season. He points to a 350 acre fire that burned in Humboldt County last January.
"Humboldt County is one of the wettest places in the country," says Kaslin. "And in the dead of winter to have a fire burning in those kinds of conditions is very telling and it’s very telling for us state wide.”
-Kate Orr / Capital Public Radio
Highway 50 open through the Pollock Pines area. Eastbound lanes are open and Westbound traffic reduced to 1 lane.
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