Arrest in King Fire; 10% contained; Tahoe safe


Updated Sept. 18 7pm:

By Kathryn Reed

An arrest has been made in the out-of-control King Fire near Pollock Pines.

Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, was arrested Sept. 17 on a charge of arson – forestland. His bail was set at $10 million.

Wayne Allen Huntsman

Wayne Allen Huntsman

The King Fire erupted Sept 13 and has since burned 73,184 acres and is 10 percent contained.

A criminal complaint was filed by the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office on Sept. 18 alleging Huntsman “willfully and maliciously set fire to and burn, and caused to be burned forest land” in what is now known as the King Fire. Aggravating factors have been added because two people fighting the fire have been injured.

Huntsman has a criminal past. In Santa Cruz County he has been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and in Plumas County on property theft charges.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 19 at 1pm in Placerville.

How the fire was started has not been released.

Smoke from the King Fire makes for a colorful sunset at Cave Rock. Photo/Susan Wood

Smoke from the King Fire makes for a colorful sunset at Cave Rock. Photo/Susan Wood

Fire update

“The fire is a not a threat to the basin at this time,” Dave Zaski with North Tahoe Fire told Lake Tahoe News Thursday afternoon. There are also no evacuations in the basin. And Truckee is also not threatened.

The terrain that ignited last night was heavily wooded, whereas the areas close to Alpine Meadows and Squaw Valley are full of granite.

“We are telling people to have an evacuation plan ready. If something goes bad, we will tell them,” Zaski said.

Winds are also expected to decrease and the humidity level should be good for fighting the fire this evening.

The fire is moving east toward Desolation Wilderness. It has moved into Placer County. As of Thursday morning it was almost at Hell Hole Reservoir. The U.S. Forest Service has issued an advisory for people to not hike or backpack in Desolation and Granite Chief wilderness areas. The McKinney Rubicon Trail has been closed. A closure notice has been issued for Eldorado National Forest until the fire is out.

While no structures have been lost as of Sept. 18, thousands of residents are temporarily displaced as fire threatens them. As of Thursday night, 12,000 single residences and 9,000 other minor structures are in the path of the fire.

Because of evacuations advised for the areas of Kyburz and Silver Fork, Silver Fork Elementary School will be closed Sept. 19.

Highway 50 is closed from Pollock Pines to Riverton. For updates from Caltrans, click on the state icon on the home page of Lake Tahoe News.

The fire is moving north from Pollock Pines into popular wilderness areas. Map/Google Images

The fire is moving north from Pollock Pines into popular wilderness areas. Hell Hole Reservoir is at the top, then Loon Lake to the right, and Union Valley Reservoir near the center. Map/Google Images

On Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown issued an emergency proclamation for El Dorado and Siskiyou counties because of the King and Boles fires. The Boles Fire is the one that swept through the town of Weed and continues to burn.

Smoke is expected to continue to be a problem for Truckee, Carson City and Reno areas. Washoe County is reporting unhealthy air quality and recommending people not go outside, especially people with respiratory issues, older people and the very young.

The evacuation center is at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Camino, where small animals are welcome. Another Red Cross evacuation center is located at 6530 Wentworth Springs Road in Georgetown. Late Thursday afternoon the South Lake Tahoe Recreation Center opened as an evacuation site. Lake Tahoe Humane Society has provided cages for small animals because the West Slope ran out of them.

The Ironman race on the North Shore this weekend is still scheduled. The air show at Lake Tahoe Airport on the South Shore is also still happening, only now the admission is free.

Nearly 3,700 people are working the King Fire with 327 engines, 15 helicopters, 49 dozers and 80 water tenders. Crews from Lake Tahoe are at the fire.

Officials say it is costing $5 million a day to fight the fire.


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Comments (16)
  1. Mama Bear says - Posted: September 18, 2014

    This man can just give his a** to God. I don’t think anyone else will help him.

  2. TeaTotal says - Posted: September 18, 2014

    Toogee-incredible/scary picture of that pyro-cumulus cloud-and Mama Bear has it absolutely correct

  3. tahoebluewire says - Posted: September 18, 2014

    My GF has treated this POS at Marshall hospital in the past. Well known local criminal. They should hang him from the hangmans post in old town Placerville.

  4. bgarden says - Posted: September 18, 2014

    I must refrain from posting my thoughts on what to do with this criminal/arsonist… justice will serve him well…

  5. Steven says - Posted: September 18, 2014

    Unfortunately there is no justice.
    This guy has been and will continue to be a drain on society. Taxpayers will pay to fight the fire, we will pay to prosecute him, we will pay to hold him in prison, it never ends, he wins.
    Hopefully no structures will be lost, but how many animals have died in this fire.
    So to get justice, lets tie him up out in the forest, coat him with an animal attractant and leave him there, the animals can do justice to him. Good riddance.

  6. Know Bears says - Posted: September 18, 2014

    He is innocent until proven guilty.

  7. go figure says - Posted: September 18, 2014

    Seems the authorities are pretty sure they got their guy. Time will tell. If he is guilty, well, I wouldnt want to be him…

  8. Moral Hazard says - Posted: September 18, 2014

    We give him a fair trial and then hang the son of a *****.

  9. Dogula says - Posted: September 18, 2014

    MH, I sure wish there was a “like” button.

  10. Ginger Nicolay-Davis says - Posted: September 18, 2014

    Thank you for the up to date information!

  11. Missing Home says - Posted: September 19, 2014

    Words cannot express how pissed I am right now. I have had ties with this area my whole life. Family in Kyburz, Strawberry, Pollock Pines, Camino, Cedar Grove. I was married in Lake Tahoe back in 1987. Worked at Marshall Hospital, lived in Placerville. I now reside in Oregon. If I could have 5 min with this POS …… Unbelievable. What was the point of this tantrum? May God have NO mercy on his soul !!

  12. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: September 19, 2014


  13. Mary says - Posted: September 19, 2014

    Why dont they arrest the politicians and forestry officials who allow the forest to grow to 10X its natural density allowing so much fuel buildup that fires like this are unstoppable ?

    There are laws governing how much flammable agent one can store at their homes. But nobody wants to govern the fuel buildup in nature. Wildfires burned way before humans were here. Who do you think put them out then ?

  14. go figure says - Posted: September 19, 2014

    Mary, go back 100 or more years and tell the politicians and forest officials from then that their plan to not let wildfires burn would create the over grown issues of today. I suppose you are of the ilk it should all be logged? Well, thank goodness that isnt the case. When this is all done I bet we find something positive fuel reduction wise might have come from this fire. The real bummer is that it wasnt caused by a act of nature. Your real gripe should be with the arsonist.
    It is unfortunate that some homes were burnt.

  15. Cautious and Skeptical says - Posted: September 19, 2014

    Thanks for keeping us updated !

  16. cosa pescado says - Posted: September 19, 2014

    Treat him like anyone else who causes that much financial devastation. Treat him like a banker.
    Oh wait. I mean treat him like a person who insures banks.
    Gosh darn. Ok well at the very least treat him like a marijuana dealer in Louisiana.