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Man indicted for allegedly setting massive King fire

Man indicted for allegedly setting massive King fire
Wayne Allen Huntsman, right, appears in El Dorado County Superior Court with Public Defender William Dittman on charges related to the King fire. Huntsman pleaded not guilty to an arson charge. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

A 37-year-old man had been indicted on arson charges for allegedly setting the massive and devastating King fire that burned for more than a month in El Dorado County.

El Dorado County Dist. Atty. Vern Pierson on Monday announced the grand jury decision to charge Wayne Allen Huntsman with "willfully, unlawfully and maliciously" setting fire to forest land — an act that resulted in the destruction of 12 homes, 68 structures and more than 97,000 acres burned.

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The fast-moving fire started Sept. 13 in Pollock Pines and exploded overnight, chewing through the Eldorado National Forest and forcing thousands to flee their homes.

Huntsman, who was arrested Sept. 17, was arraigned Monday for felony arson of forest land as well as multiple special allegations of arson. His bail is set at $10 million.

Because Huntsman allegedly set the fire, he's responsible for more than $6.5 million in property damage and other losses, according to the indictment.

The indictment also alleges Huntsman's action resulted in great bodily injury to a firefighter as well as to multiple victims.

Huntsman has four prior felonies, including assault with a deadly weapon, grand theft, auto theft and receiving stolen property, according to the court documents.

Resident Ralf Lorenz told The Times that Huntsman broke into a home near the ignition point to report the blaze to 911. Lorenz said he wasn't home during the time, but he later arrived to find law enforcement and fire officials parked on his lawn.

Huntsman's attorney, Bob Banning, declined to comment, citing he still had to review discovery evidence and charges set forth in the indictment.

During Monday's hearing, Huntsman's attorney filed a motion to recuse the judge.

He is scheduled to appear Jan. 23 in an El Dorado County courtroom for a trial setting hearing.

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