Charges dismissed for 2 teens accused Gatlinburg wildfires - WSMV News 4

Charges dismissed for 2 teens accused in Smoky Mountains wildfires

Posted: Updated:
Fourteen people were killed in the wildfires last November. (WSMV) Fourteen people were killed in the wildfires last November. (WSMV)
Greg Isaacs, an attorney for one of the juveniles, held a news conference on Friday. (WSMV) Greg Isaacs, an attorney for one of the juveniles, held a news conference on Friday. (WSMV)

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

The wildfires caused millions of dollars in damage in the Smoky Mountains and resulted in 14 deaths.

Sources previously told the Knoxville News Sentinel that the boys, ages 17 and 15, were hiking on the Chimney Tops Trail tossing matches onto the ground.

The Isaacs Law Firm released a statement saying, "Prosecutors have dropped charges against the two juveniles they initially labeled as being responsible for starting the state's largest and deadliest wildfire this century."

Greg Isaacs, defense attorney for one of the teens, held a news conference on Friday.

"My client and the other juvenile, based on the proof and evidence, did not cause the death and devastation in Gatlinburg. Period,” Isaacs said. 

"Regardless of whether it could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the evidence showed there was no causation between the Chimney Tops II and the Gatlinburg fire," he added.

Fourth Judicial District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn filed the order to dismiss the charges.

"The unprecedented, unexpected and unforeseeable wind event that started in the early morning hours of Nov. 28, 2016, approximately four and a half days after the initial origin of the fire, was the primary reason the Chimney Tops II fire traveled outside the park into Gatlinburg," said the district attorney's office in a news release.

Prosecutors said they are unable to prove the juveniles' criminal responsibility beyond a reasonable doubt because of the winds that reached speeds over 80 mph.

According to the state, there were several other fires in the area and additional ignition points that were caused by downed power lines.

The release goes on to say, "Once the investigation confirmed multiple fires with multiple points of origin, it became impossible to prove which fire may have caused the death of an individual or damage to a particular structure."

The names of the teens have not been released. The Channel 4 I-Team reported in February they are believed to be from the small town of Clinton, TN.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says they are now reviewing evidence in the case to determine whether further action is appropriate.

Stay with Channel 4 and for updates on this story.

News release from the Isaacs Law Firm:

News release from the district attorney general:

Copyright 2017 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2018, WSMV; Nashville, TN. (A Meredith Corporation Station) . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.