King Fire Arsonist: ‘I’m Pleading Guilty Because I’m Guilty’

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PLACERVILLE --

September 2014 — a few sparks explode into the devastating 97,000 acre King Fire.

Less than two years later, many in El Dorado County continue to piece their lives together. On Friday, some closure came in the courtroom when Wayne Huntsman admitted to intentionally starting the wildfire and pleaded guilty to three counts of arson. Huntsman was sentenced to 20 years in prison plus $60 million in restitution to fire victims.

"People lost their homes, and there's just a tremendous amount of devastation," King Fire evacuee Wayne McBride said.

Investigators released three pieces of evidence which helped convict Huntsman: 911 calls of him reporting the fire, a selfie video showing him surrounded by smoke and surveillance video of the arsonist buying alcohol on the day of the fire.

"He's probably the most remorseful client I've ever represented, and I hope the community understands that," Huntsman's Chief Public Defender Teri Monterosso said.

And Huntsman expressed his remorse inside the courtroom. Visibly tense, at times he bowing his head and sobbing, huntsman told the courtroom, "I have cried many nights for the victims and their losses."

Huntsman asked victims to forgive him one day, and despite setting a fire that destroyed many homes, some say that's a possibility.

Tom Boscow, a resident whose home was destroyed in the King Fire, told FOX40, "I had everything, and now basically I have nothing." Despite that, however, he said he can forgive Huntsman.