In a report as inflammatory as the King Fire itself, a Reno reporter’s story claims fire fighters on first day of fire failed to notice that it was not out. By next morning the fire had exploded into what we know call the King Fire that destroyed more than 12 homes and cost more than $50 million to fight.

kingOver the weekend the large Reno newspaper, owned by Gannet, filed a report that will have far reaching implications on not only fire fighter’s work, but on the case filed against the accused arsonist.

Siemny Chhuon of KXTV, writes,

“According to Cal Fire Battalion Chief Scott McLean, the fire initially only burned 1-2 acres off a very steep canyon. ‘Evidently some debris rolled off the edge and into the lower elevations,’ McLean explained.”

The story goes on to say,

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Wayne Allen Huntsman, 37, has been charged with deliberately setting the King Fire.

“Cal Fire contained the fire contained the fire to about 80 percent that night. Mop up crews remained on scene. Hours later, McLean said crews realized a spot fire had started down below.”

We have heard numerous reports that the first response to the fire failed to do a good job “mopping up” and that their failure to recognize the remaining danger let the King Fire grow from a couple of acres to 150 square miles of burn.  The story filed by KXTV adds more such claims.

“The terrain was impossible to get down,” McLean added. “The firefighters were actually working on the edge, holding on to the hose as if it was rope to try to take care of the situation.”

About the accusations of neglect, McLean says he has heard all of it. He stands by his men.

They did their job, they did a very good job, they tackled the initial attack,” McLean said. “They had resources and followed everything they’re supposed to.”

The report added, “More resources were called in, but the fire had exploded out of control.”

Two weeks of accusations that fire fighters failed to do a sufficient job on the first day have been elevated from rumors to open accusations and rebuttals as Cal Fire Battalion Chief Scott McLean confirms the accusations and makes statements defending the work done by the initial crew.

State and Federal laws protect most government employees so it is unlikely that, even if the job was done inadequately, any fire fighters will receive any serious disciplinary actions, but the case against the accused arsonist might be placed in risk.

Almost all defenses are based on placing the blame on someone other then the defendant.  Now we can expect to hear the accused arsonist’s defense to say that everything after the first few acres was caused by fire fighter neglect.  This may come with the claim that the accused arsonist is the person that called in the fire fighter’s in the first place.

One thing is clear, the public, and perhaps the court, will want a full understanding of what occurred in the first 24 hours of the King Fire.


See Siemny Chhuon of KXTV story here: http://www.rgj.com/story/news/2014/09/28/king-fire-spread-fast/16382503/

POLLOCK PINES, Calif. – In order to understand how the King Fire exploded out of control, you have to understand where it started.

It started off of a hiking trail in Pollock Pines, off King of the Mountain Road.

According to Cal Fire Battalion Chief Scott McLean, the fire initially only burned 1-2 acres off a very steep canyon.

“Evidently some debris rolled off the edge and into the lower elevations,” McLean explained.

Cal Fire contained the fire contained the fire to about 80 percent that night. Mop up crews remained on scene. Hours later, McLean said crews realized a spot fire had started down below.

Because of the intense drought-like conditions, it doesn’t take much for the fire to take off.

“The terrain was impossible to get down,” McLean added. “The firefighters were actually working on the edge, holding on to the hose as if it was rope to try to take care of the situation.”

More resources were called in, but the fire had exploded out of control.

Eventually, authorities would arrest Wayne Huntsman on suspicion of arson. Sources say there were multiple points of origin.

There’s concern and chatter in the community. Some who believe mop up crews didn’t do their job that day.

McLean has heard all of it. He stands by his men.

“They did their job, they did a very good job, they tackled the initial attack,” McLean said. “They had resources and followed everything they’re supposed to.”

The fire is still under investigation.

COMMENTS

. . . but . . . but . . . Vern got his guy . . . Right? . . . WTF! . . . Vern got his man . . . move along already!

Yes, we all saw this as they pulled everyone off the fire to, ‘sleep’ when they could have put it out that night.

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King Fire in El Dorado Co. Explodes overnight making it the Largest Fire in Regional History

King Fire, at almost 71,000 acres, takes the crown as largest local fire in modern history dwarfing the Cleveland fire and consuming more acres than the Cleveland fire at 22,000 acres, the Freds fire at 7,560 acres, Sand fire at 4,240, and Angora fire at 3,100 acres combined!

King Runs the Rubicon – Fire Dwarfs the historic Cleveland fire!  Firefighters stumping King fire progress near Stumpy Meadows.

Current Situation: The King Fire is burning in steep terrain in the South Fork of the American River Canyon and Silver Creek Canyon, north of the community of Pollock Pines. Yesterday afternoon’s fire behavior became extreme with crown runs and long range spotting resulting in the fire making a significant run to the northwest towards Quintette, Volcanoville, and Stumpy Meadows Reservoir.  Field observations, and Infrared imagery it was determined that the fire made a run of over ten miles to the north between the hours of 1600 and 0600. Spot fires were observed up to three miles ahead of the main fire front.

It was grim afternoon for firefighters as this message was received from the field,  just before 3:00PM Wednesday: “I was just at North Canyon. Western front of the fire is now 1.5 miles up canyon from Slab Creek Res. Cal Fire has a crew of 40 creating a fire break up both sides of the canyon just below the dam….nothing but the sound of chain saws in the air. Flames are visible now from North Canyon in Camino (1.5 miles east) as the fire has crested the ridge of the canyon on the west flank.”

Wednesday started out rough for fire fighters as the fire did not take a rest on Tuesday night and low humidity, winds, and steep terrain had allowed the fire to grow 50% larger over the nighttime hours.  By morning the fire was listed at 27,000 acres and officials reported:

Humidity recovery was poor last night throughout the fire area. Therefore the fire remained active throughout the night and today, becoming extreme this afternoon. The Infrared data this morning showed significant movement overnight towards the north in the areas of Brush Creek, Lookout Mountain, and Jaybird Canyon.

This report understated the urgency in two areas.

A tremendous fight was being made to stop the fire from crossing Highway 50 and opening a new front in the timber rich area near Sly Park and Jenkinson Reservoir.  That fight had been successful the prior day but the fire was unrelenting causing more Highway closures as the battle line was the highway’s apron and burning and burnt trees were falling into the roadway.  Although the highway makes a great fire break, the intensity of the giant inferno made the defense of the south county a battle royal with fire fighters giving it everything they had.

The fight to save Camino and Pollock Pines had been won and many evacuations were lifted, but up on the divide, things turned nasty.

The fire had exhausted most fuels around Pollock Pines and was contained at the southern side by the highway, but it was growing fast towards the North.  Parts pushed up steep canyons and caused great concern for those in the Swansboro areas.  Seeing the treat fire officials evacuated the area and began moving in tons and tons of fire fighting equipment and more than a 1,000 firefighters on the ground.  They had some success holding the fire back on Tuesday but most success was given back before noon on Wednesday.

Swansboro is remote, but behind it is some of the most remote areas in the county including the communities of Quintette, Volcanoville, and towards the Stumpy Meadows Reservoir, the water storage for Divide water customers.  As firefighters had success limiting the fire’s growth to the south, west, and east, the fire ran out to the isolated areas of north county.  On the north-west side is Swansboro.  Fire fighting efforts stopped the fire from crossing a key ridge and entering the main developments of Swansboro, but further up Mosquito road, the fight was not so successful.

(Click on Picture to see Video)

High winds had driven the fire past defensive lines and soon invaded the Stumpy Meadows valley with numerous spot fires.  Video of the forest across the Stumpy reservoir was distressing for many backcountry enthusiast to watch.  Although it was reported that a “family has confirmed the loss of home and their animals”, the success of firefighters to save real property has been most notable.  But for all of its problems, the Divide communities were doing well compared to the fire’s advance further north.

 This part of the county is known for its famous Rubicon Trail going from the Divide to Tahoe with many historic places like Uncle Toms Cabin built about 150 years ago.  In about 18 hours the fire advanced miles north riding the winds to start many spot fires well over any fire defense lines.

Today will see continued efforts to save real property to the south and west, but we will see intense efforts to curb the fire’s advance into the Rubicon valley and Placer county.  The fire traveled so fast, and so far north, that it more than doubled its size, mostly in the north.

As things begin to return to normal around Pollock Pines, the people on the eastern Divide and in the Rubicon areas are in for a very long and worrisome day.

Last night a report summed up today’s prospects:

“A very active day.” Fire activity started early and kept up all day largely because of low overnight humidity and gusty winds.
Firefighters made very good progress on the south side, but the fire grew significantly in other places so we are still at 5% containment. Many more firefighting resources arrived for a total of 3,367 personnel.

As the fire grows it breaks a depressing record to become the largest fire in county history.  Prior to the King Fire, the Cleveland fire was our local boogieman when we talked about fires.  Both Fred fire and Angora fire are also burned into our collective memories and the Sands fire so recent we can still smell the embers, but Cleveland was always the Big Dog by which we judged all others.  Now the King Fire has Taken that crown as the largest fire.  We can only wonder how much more this monster of a fire will consume before it is brought under control.

Today:
King Fire = 71,000 acres and growing (Yesterday it was 27,930acres)

Cleveland fire = 22,000 acres
Freds fire= 7,500 acres
Sand fire = 4,000 acres
Angora fire = 3.100 acres

Last night, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued an emergency proclamation for El Dorado and Siskiyou counties due to the effects of the King and Boles fires, which have burned thousands of acres, destroyed homes and other structures and damaged critical infrastructure.

As of last night, 2,007 single residences and 1,505 other minor structures threatened.

Officials added this to today’s notes: “An upper los is expected to move overhead through the area on Thursday bringing a chance of thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday.”

In a final punctuation to the fire’s size, a satellite picture was distributed yesterday that showed the fire from space, and you could see the blackened area chard by King’s flames, even from space!

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King Fire firebug Captured – $10 million Bail, Past Record

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A possible arrest has been made for the start of the King Fire in El Dorado County, California.

kingRENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) — A possible arrest has been made for the start of the King Fire in El Dorado County, California.  According to El Dorado County officials, 37-year-old Wayne Allen Huntsman was booked into Placerville Jail for Arson on Federal Land. He is being held at $10,000,000 bail.

El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson said Huntsman was taken into custody late Wednesday in Placerville. He said law enforcement officials had been in contact with Huntsman before his arrest, but he would not comment further.

The criminal complaint filed against Huntsman states that he has been charged with felony arson with aggravating factors. He is set to be arraigned at 1 p.m. Friday.

“We expect that that investigation will be ongoing in the near future,” Pierson said. He said they have no information that another individual was involved in starting the fire.

“On or about the 13th day of September… (Huntsman) did willfully and maliciously set fire to and burn, and cause to be burned, forest land located in and around Pollock Pines,” the complaint reads.

Pierson said he would not provide comment on Huntsman beyond the information included in the complaint.

Pierson, Cal Fire officials and others discussed the investigation into the fire at a press conference Thursday.

Huntsman has refused an interview request from News10. Officials said the investigation and firefighting efforts have involved multiple public service agencies.

“Within minutes of the initial call of this fire we had investigators on scene,” Cal Fire Unit Chief Mike Kaslan said.

Laurence Crabtree, a U.S. Forest Service supervisor for the Eldorado National Forest, called the King Fire “a growing and dangerous fire.” The fire covers more than 71,000 acres; it threatens more than 12,000 residences and more than 3,000 people have been evacuated, officials said. No structures have been destroyed by the fire, Kaslan said.

Crabtree said the firefighting effort costs more than $5 million a day.

“We are seeing some fire behavior in September that we have not seen before, that we have not seen in a long time,” Kaslan said.

READ MORE: King Fire now at 70,944 acres

News10’s George Warren first reported the news on Twitter that Huntsman was charged with deliberately setting the King Fire and that he was held on $10 million bail.