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Firefighters on Saturday were trying to beat back a growing Northern California wildfire that has burned through nearly 81,000 acres — and could worsen with erratic winds expected to fan the flames. Winds from the northeast and southwest are forecast to collide later Saturday, which would cause the fire raging through the canyons of El Dorado County to intensify, officials told NBC News. With the blaze — which began a week ago — only about 10 percent contained, crews are focusing on strengthening their containment lines and shoring up the head and back ends of the fire. The so-called King Fire has increased by about 4,000 acres every 12 hours, officials said.
Authorities apprehended 37-year-old Wayne Allen Hunstman on Wednesday for allegedly setting the fire deliberately, although no motive has been given. He pleaded not guilty in court Friday, and remains jailed on $10 million bail. Another court date was set for Oct. 28.
Huntman's sister, Tami Criswell, was “shocked” that her brother allegedly sparked the blaze. “I can’t believe that he would ever have anything to do with something like that, or that he would do anything intentionally like that,” she told NBC Bay Area on Friday.
There have been over 2,800 evacuations since the fire started, according to Cal Fire. More than 4,900 firefighters and personnel are now tackling the scene, and so far, more than half-a-million gallons of water have been used. Four fire personnel have been injured, and at least four homes were burned, according to NBC affiliate KCRA. Fire officials couldn't immediately confirm the number of damaged structures to NBC News.