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King fire arsonist who took selfie video pleads guilty

A man accused of setting the massive and devastating King fire that burned for more than a month in the Sierra Nevada pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday, authorities said.

El Dorado County Dist. Atty. Vern Person said Wayne Allen Huntsman pleaded guilty to three counts of arson to forest land, admitted culpability for causing injury to firefighters and destruction of multiple structures.

Besides the prison sentence, he was also ordered to pay over $60 million in victim restitution.

The fast-moving fire started Sept. 13, 2014, in Pollock Pines and spread overnight, burning through the El Dorado National Forest and forcing thousands to flee their homes.  The fire destroyed 12 homes and 68 structures and burned more than 97,000 acres over a span of more than 27 days.

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Huntsman, who recorded a “selfie” video of himself shortly after setting the fire, was arrested on Sept. 17.  A former inmate firefighter, Huntsman has, according to court documents, four prior felonies -- assault with a deadly weapon, grand theft, auto theft and receiving stolen property.

Resident Ralf Lorenz told the Los Angeles Times that Huntsman broke into his 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.

El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Daniel Proud sentenced Huntsman to 20 years in prison, the maximum allowable for the three counts alleged in the grand jury indictment.

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Twitter: @latvives 

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