Updated 1:42 p.m. EDT
News10 in Sacramento is reporting that authorities have charged 37-year-old Wayne Allen Huntsman with “deliberately setting” the King Fire. Huntsman is currently being held on a $10 million bail in the El Dorado County Jail.
As 10 major wildfires rage across regions of drought-stricken California, firefighters are rushing to contain a fire threatening more than 2,000 homes and 1,505 smaller structures in and around the Northern California town of Pollock Pines on Thursday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Dubbed the King Fire, the blaze grew considerably overnightfrom covering 18,544 acres Wednesday to more than 70,000 by Thursday morning. It is now 5 percent contained, according to Cal Fire officials.
More than 3,000 firefighters are struggling against the wildfire amid windy conditions and one of the most severe droughts in California’s history.
“With the winds that we’re starting to see and we’ll see over the next couple of days as storm system moves in—those gusty winds, these dry conditions—that’s the perfect combination for this fire to grow,” said Daniel Berlant, a Cal Fire spokesman, told KCBS on Wednesday.
California Governor Jerry Brown declared “a state of emergency for El Dorado and Siskiyou counties” in Northern California on Thursday in light of the growing fires.
The majority of wildfires currently burning are in the northern and central parts of the state, the Los Angeles Times reported. The largest fire is the Happy Camp Complex fire burning in the Klamath National Forest. That fire has consumed more than 125,000 acres and is now 68 percent contained.
On Monday, the Boles fire ripped through the small California town of Weed near the Oregon border, destroying 110 homes, two churches and the town library.