Citing Unpredictable Winds, State Drops Charges Against Two Juveniles In Gatlinburg Wildfire

by Garry Watts July 2, 2017, 1:01
Citing Unpredictable Winds, State Drops Charges Against Two Juveniles In Gatlinburg Wildfire

The charges have been dropped against two teens who were accused of starting the wildfires in Gatlinburg last fall.

Prosecutors can't prove the youth were responsible because there were other factors contributing to the fire's seriousness, such as 80-mph (130-kph) winds and downed power lines that ignited flames, District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn said in a statement.

"But for the winds that reached speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour, it is highly unlikely and improbably that the Chimney Tops II fire would have left the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and reached Gatlinburg", Dunn said.

Greg Isaacs, the attorney for one of the boys involved, defended his client at a press conference Friday and told reporters that people in Gatlinburg should not feel frustrated by the decision.

"Because of this intervening weather event, the state is unable to prove the criminal responsibility of the two juveniles beyond a reasonable doubt for the devastation that occurred outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park", Dunn said.

Girl's actions caused her to fall from NY park ride
Lent says after he noticed the girl hanging from her upper body, he yelled at park personnel to do something to rescue her. Winchell, who is applying to be a nurse, said they visited the girl Sunday at the hospital and she was in good spirits.

The remains of a Jeep rental business smolders after a wildfire November 29, 2016 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. He cited the "unprecedented, unexpected and unforeseeable wind event" that occurred five days after the Chimney Tops fire, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel and other national reports.

The Chimney Tops II fire killed 14 people and destroyed more than 10,000 homes and business.

However, if the Dept. of Justice believes the two juveniles committed a crime within the park's limits, federal charges can still be brought against them. "I think this is the beginnings of answering questions that need to be answered". They called the case "an unfortunate rush to judgement". "Clearly that investigation is over so there is no reason whatever, if there ever was a reason, to keep these records confidential".

Local officials indicated they were working on releasing those records in a joint statement Sevier County and Gatlinburg issued late Friday afternoon.

The wildfires in Sevier County claimed at least 14 lives and burned tens of thousands of acres.

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