Charges dismissed for 2 teens accused in Smokey Mountains wildfires
- Author: Sonia Alvarado Jul 02, 2017,
Jul 02, 2017, 1:02
The prosecution dropped all charges Friday against two juveniles who were accused of starting last year's deadly wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The firestorms started in an area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park called the Chimney Tops on November 23, 2016.
Attorney Gregory Isaacs held a press conference Friday to talk about the dismissed charged.
Dunn also cited jurisdiction issues within the federal park. But the Chimney Tops II fire jumped over to Gatlinburg four days later, and it wouldn't have done so without the unexpected, high-speed winds that occurred, he wrote in a statement.
Fourteen people died from those fires, and more than 2,400 structures were burned or damaged by fire.
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.
After that, they also concluded that Dunn's office didn't have authority to prosecute actions in the national park.
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Isaacs said the decision should mean fire victims are closer to getting answers to their questions - many of which had been styimed after Dunn asked local, state and federal offices to withhold documents that could be used in the investigation.
"How do you teach young adults a lesson by letting them go after killing 14 people and disrupting all our lives by destroying everything I own, including my two cats?"
10News has made numerous public records requests of area governments and agencies, seeking information about how authorities addressed the fires beginning with the November 23 fire that started on the Chimney Tops trail inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. "They're not little bitty kids", she said.
The officials said they are working with legal counsel to review and release information in response to the "voluminous records requests" they have received.
"Sevier County and Gatlinburg are frustrated at how complex this issue has become", they said, .
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