Man Charged With Starting Massive 2013 Rim Fire

By: AP Email
By: AP Email
U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner stated: “The Rim Fire was one of the largest in California history. After an extensive investigation, today we have brought minimal charges relating to the cause of that fire.” This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service with assistance from the Tuolumne County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Kevin P. Rooney and Melanie L. Alsworth are prosecuting the case. Emerald is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday, August 8, 2014 in federal court in Fresno. If convicted of setting timber afire or false statements to a government agency, Emerald faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count. Leaving a fire unattended and violating a fire restriction order each carry a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

GROVELAND, Calif. (AP) - A California man has been charged with starting one of the state's largest wildfires, which charred a huge swath of land in Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest last year.

Federal prosecutors say a grand jury returned a four-count indictment Thursday against 32-year-old Keith Matthew Emerald alleging he started a fire on Aug. 17, 2013, that spread beyond his control and turned into the massive Rim Fire.

Prosecutors say temporary fire restrictions in place at the time prohibited fires.

Authorities have previously said the fire was started by an illegal fire set by a hunter.

The fire raged for two months across 400 square miles of land. It ranks as California's third-largest wildfire and the largest in the Sierra Nevada's recorded history.

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