The #Tennessee fire that devastated #Gatlinburg, killed 14 people and destroyed over 1700 buildings appears to have had its roots in aggravated arson. The Knoxville Daily Sun also confirmed that 145 people were injured. The fire which began on 23 November in the great Smoky Mountains National Park may have been set by two young teenagers who have now been arrested.
Tennessee teenagers charged with aggravated arson
Police said on 7th December in a media conference at the Sevier County Courthouse, that two teen #suspects face charges of aggravated arson.
They will have their first bond hearing in Juvenile Court but if prosecutors try them as adults the case will be heard in the Criminal Court.
The BNA News site reported that "Steve Kloster, the park’s chief ranger, thanked those who tipped them off with information." Through a process of checking who hiked the area or knew of others in the area, they were able to narrow down the list of suspects who may have started the fire..
During the Police coverage of the arrests, 4th Judicial District attorney general, Jimmy Dunn said that the teenagers will remain in custody and will have a hearing within "72 hours." Dunn also said the teens come from Tennessee, but the names of the juveniles were not released at the press conference.
Gatlinburg will re-open on Friday
Gatlinburg has been under an evacuation order and only this week some people were allowed back in but under strict curfew hours. The city which is in a tourist area will open to the public again on Friday. Weather News reported that people who saw the destruction of their homes were saddened and angry. As of Wednesday, there were still 1800 without electricity and 150 people were staying in shelters. The fire was driven by high winds and it is possible that rainfall was the deciding factor in emergency fire crews managing to put the fire out.
The damage to wildlife, humans, property, and infrastructure runs into millions in monetary terms and this will likely go hard for the juvenile suspects who police believe started the fire. A drone captured video of the fire on Youtube shows the extent of the damage.