2 Juveniles Charged With Aggravated Arson in Deadly Tennessee Wildfires

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Two juveniles have been charged with aggravated arson in connection with the deadly Tennessee wildfires that have killed 14 people and destroyed or damaged more than 1,700 buildings, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

The teens were taken into custody this morning and are being held at the Sevier County juvenile detention center, said Sevier County District Attorney Jimmy Dunn. Authorities are looking to see if more charges are possible, Dunn said.

They are entitled to have a detention hearing in the next 72 hours, Dunn said. A juvenile court judge will decide if they will be held with bond or without bond. Transferring the teens to adult court is also under consideration, Dunn said.

The juveniles' identities were not released. They are not from Sevier County but are residents of Tennessee, Dunn said.

Mark Gwyn, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, offered his condolences to the victims and said the agency is "committed to making sure justice is served with this case."

Great Smoky Mountain Superintendent Cassius Cash thanked those who responded to the tip line, saying the "information was critical."

More than 130 people have been injured as a direct result of the fires, according to officials.

Parts of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the most popular of America's national parks, has been devastated by the fires. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam called the mountains a "special place" to Tennesseans during a press conference last Friday.

The Associated Press was permitted to visit the park and said "soot, ash and blackened trees" covered the forest floor. Small plumes of smoke smoldered from hot spots as recently as last Friday, The AP reported.

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