Man Charged With Starting Rim Fire Surrenders

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - A Northern California man charged with setting one of the largest wildfires in the Sierra Nevada's recorded history says he's not guilty.

Keith Matthew Emerald turned himself in to authorities Tuesday morning and appeared in a Fresno courtroom in the afternoon to be charged. He faces four counts stemming from a wildfire last year that burned 400 square miles in Yosemite National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest.

Prosecutors say Emerald was hunting deer with a bow Aug. 17, 2013, when he lost control of an illegal campfire. He had to be rescued from the flames by helicopter.

Federal public defender Janet Bateman says her client isn't guilty of the crime that could put him in prison for five years.

A judge said Emerald could post a $60,000 property bond to be released.

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