Friends of King Fire Arson Suspect Come to His Defense

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POLLOCK PINES-

As the King Fire continues to burn, El Dorado County crews are assessing the damage to homes which burned down in the area.

Meanwhile in Pollock Pines, friends of arson suspect Wayne "Chris" Huntsman are coming to his defense.

As the fire burns northward into Placer County, many in Pollock Pines are still furious with the man accused of starting the blaze, Wayne "Chris" Huntsman.

"Yeah, I'm very upset with him. Very," said Lars Hewett, who lives very close to where the fire started.

But friends of Huntsman are speaking on his behalf. "From what I know, he's not a bad guy at all," said a friend. The man, who did not want his face shown on camera, says he's one of several friends who does not believe Huntsman's acts were intentional.

"Me and him have been on more hikes, more nature walks than anyone I know," said the friend. "I know the guy would never intentionally start a fire."

Meanwhile, authorities are getting a better understanding of the scale of the King Fire's destruction.

An assessment team, made up of El Dorado County sheriff deputies, building inspectors and firefighters, toured destroyed homes along White Meadow Road, northeast of Pollock Pines.

"They spend a lot of time at each property, assessing, photographing, and documenting so that we have a really accurate picture of what we've got," said Mike McMillan, BLM Public Information Officer for the King Fire.

Soon they'll have a cont of just how many homes were lost.

Lars Hewett says he lives just up the hill from where the fire started, and he often saw Huntsman in the woods. He believes town rumors about Hunstman wanting to get caught.

"I think he thought it would just be a small thing," said Hewett. "He called it in."

Again though, Huntsman's friends see it differently.

"He's not the kind of guy who would intentionally start a fire, maybe accidentally, maybe stupidly someone, but never intentionally, it's not him," said the anonymous friend.

Firefighters here at base camp say the fire only made small gains to the north today, where there are more natural barriers like lakes. They hope that means it won't destroy any more homes.