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Giant King fire burns 10 homes, could be whipped up as weather shifts

The King fire in Northern California grew this weekend, destroying at least 10 homes, as officials worried that changing weather conditions could fuel the massive blaze even more.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jason Clapp said meteorologists were watching closely to see whether shifting weather patterns early this week would generate winds similar to those present last week when the fire spread quickly.

The blaze in Eldorado National Forest has grown to encroach on the Tahoe National Forest, officials said. It grew to 82,018 acres and was 10% contained as of Sunday morning, and more than 5,200 firefighters are battling the fire, according to information compiled by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the U.S. Forest Service.

Nearly 3,000 people have been evacuated from the area, and 21,000 structures -- including 12,000 homes -- remain threatened by the blaze, which started Sept. 13. Four firefighters have sustained minor injuries since the fire began, Cal Fire spokesman Scott McLean said.

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On Saturday, ground crews worked to strengthen containment lines around the fire to limit further spread of the flames. Teams fanned out to assess damage to the structures that had been burned, and a preliminary report from the White Meadows area said 10 homes and 22 other structures were destroyed.

High temperatures, low humidity and forests full of extremely dry trees -- the result of serious drought conditions -- have contributed to the fire’s severity, said Cal Fire spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff.

The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office arrested 37-year-old Wayne Huntsman on suspicion of deliberately starting the blaze. He was arrested in Placerville after investigators interviewed numerous people and developed multiple leads, El Dorado County Dist. Atty. Vern Pierson told reporters Thursday.

Officials have not released details on how they believe the fire was started.

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For more California news, follow @haileybranson and @raablauren on Twitter.


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