(WMC) – Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced two children are charged with aggravated arson in connection with the deadly wildfires that destroyed hundreds of buildings, killed at least 14 people, and injured dozens more in East Tennessee.
TBI agents did not release much information about those who were arrested because they are younger than 18 years old. If they end up being charged as adults, more information could be released.
“As a result of the local, state and federal agencies working together, we are pleased to announce that two people have now been charged for their roles in starting the fire,” Director Gwyn said. “Unfortunately, these two individuals are juveniles. I can tell you that this investigation is active and ongoing and we still have a lot of work to do.”
TBI Director Mark Gwyn, Fourth District Attorney General James Dunn, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park Chief Ranger Steve Kloster revealed additional information about the investigation during a news conference on Wednesday.
According to DA Dunn, the fires started in the Chimney Top area of the Great Smoky Mountains.
TBI Director Gwyn sent his condolences to the family members of those who died in the fires, as well as residents of Sevier County. He also ensured residents that all agencies involved are committed to making sure justice is served.
Director Gwyn and DA James Dunn thanked members of TBI, ATF, National Park Service, and Sevier County Sheriff’s Office for the work that went into identifying those responsible for the fires.
“Numerous hours have gone into conducting interviews and investigating this incident from every angle. I can’t say enough about the National Park Service and ATF. They’ve been working tirelessly since the fires began,” Gwyn added.
“The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the National Park Service, and the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office have conducted a joint investigation into the cause of this fire,” Dunn said. “I like to thank those agencies for their hard work and collaborative efforts.”
The two children responsible are being held at Juvenile Detention Center in Sevier County, according to DA Dunn. They are entitled to a hearing within 72 hours of their arrest to determined whether they will be released or held with or without bond.
“Due to the laws that govern juveniles and juvenile court proceedings, as well as the fact that this is an ongoing investigation, I am prohibited in discussing this matter in any more detail than I have already stated,” Dunn stated. Continue Reading