Tennessee Drops Case Against Teens Accused Of Causing Deadly Wildfire

Man recorded video while evacuating Gatlinburg, Tenn.

Earlier this week, a judge issued a ruling clarifying that the gag order only applied to the attorneys and court officials involved in the criminal case against two juveniles accused of starting the Chimney Tops 2 fire on November 23 which later spread into Gatlinburg and other parts of Sevier County, ultimately killing 14, injuring 200 and burning 2,500 buildings.

Fourteen people died from those fires, and more than 2,400 structures were burned or damaged by fire.

This is a developing story.

Once the State determined that is prosecution may be limited to conduct and actions occurring within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the District Attorney's Office conducted additional research and investigation into jurisdictional issues regarding criminal prosecution by the State for actions or events that occur wholly within National Park land. "Period", said Greg Isaacs, defense attorney for one of the teens.

The National Park Service was expected to continue working with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on the case.

Dunn also cited jurisdiction issues.

Dana Soehn, spokeswoman for the park, said the National Park Service will present the case to the USA attorney's office.

The dismissal meant the teens can not no longer be charged by the state.

The decision was a marked contrast from the December press conference when Dunn and other officials announced the filing of the aggravated arson charges.

Fourth Judicial District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn, in a written statement, agreed he could not prove his case against the boys.

The massive Gatlinburg wildfires, which began in November, caused the deaths of 14 people, injured 175 others and destroyed homes and towns all around eastern Tennessee. "This office would also like to thank and commend the hundreds of firefighters and police officers from the national, regional, state and local levels for their extraordinary bravery and courage in confronting these fires".

  • Rogelio Becker