The Gatlinburg Wildfires
I know this post may be a little outdated but I thought it was an interesting one and wanted you to be able to read it. Here is the another post by Eric:
A wildfire started on a hiking trail in the Chimney Tops area of the Smokey Mountains shortly grew to epic proportions taking the lives of at least 14 people, forcing the evacuations of 1,000s and devastating over 17,000 acres of land. According to an incident report released on the Chimney Tops 2 Fire Facebook page, the wildfire began burning in a remote location with steep terrain making it difficult to contain. Click Here to view the Facebook pages.
To further complicate issues, the area has been suffering from severe drought conditions and the fires were spread along by high winds—sometimes with gusts up to 70mph. The magnitude of this wildfire was partly due to what are referred to as spot fires. These are new fires that are triggered by a chain of events originating with the initial fire. In this case embers carried miles away and power lines knocked by falling trees caused the original fire to grow exponentially.
So much of what we know about the cause of the original fire is still unclear. What we do know, however, is that two juveniles are currently in custody and being charged with arson. Due to the laws protecting juveniles, much of the information will continue to be withheld. According to Mark Gwyn, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, a joint investigation has resulted in aggravated arson charges being placed against the two juveniles.
It is estimated that $500 million in damages has been caused as a result of the wildfires. Local prosecutor James Dunn has made it expressly clear that “everything is on the table” concerning how these juveniles will be charged, including being tried as adults. Depending on court proceedings the kids could face up to 60 years in prison, or possibly even life in prison.
This is not going to be an easy case to try by any means. For one thing, it is unclear whether the juveniles will be tried as adults or minors. Depending on that ruling, some charges, such as first-degree murder for the 14 people who died, will or will not be a possibility.
According to sources speaking with the Knoxville News Sentinel, the boys were “dropping lit matches along a hiking trail.” But even if the case reveals that there was no intention to kill anyone that doesn’t rule out the potential of being charged with first-degree murder. View more here.