Two arrested in connection with Gatlinburg, Tenn. fire

  • Two arrested in connection with Gatlinburg, Tenn. fire

Two arrested in connection with Gatlinburg, Tenn. fire

Fourteen people were killed as the fire spread and sparked new ones, dozens were injured, and 1,785 structures were destroyed, displacing thousands of people.

The juveniles face aggravated arson charges in the fire in the Chimney Tops area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park on November 23. The fire spread to the Gatlinburg area, causing widespread damage. They are now being held at the Sevier County Juvenile Detention Center.

Officials said little about the identities of the juveniles other than they were not from Sevier County but were from Tennessee.

"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.

It is possible they will be transferred to adult court.

"Everything is on the table", James Dunn, district attorney general of the 4th District.

During an investigation, "information was developed that two juveniles allegedly started the fire", the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a news release.

Two juveniles are in custody, but police will not release their names. He said they are not from Sevier County, but they are residents of Tennessee. No additional information about the youths was made available, including their age and gender.

The wind carried the flames from the nearby Chimney Tops fire across ground parched by a historic drought and into the surrounding towns.

"To the residents of Sevier County: We stand with you and are committed to making sure justice is served in this case", TBI Director Mark Gwyn said at the news conference Wednesday.

The suspects are entitled to a hearing within 72 hours of their arrest at which a judge will decide whether they will be held without bond, have bond set or be released, Dunn said. The fire is about 64 percent contained, authorities said Wednesday, and parts of the park remain closed. Previously, the National Park Service said it believed the fire was human caused, and set up a tip line for people to call if they hiked that trail on November 23, or knew anyone who did.

The death toll in the Gatlinburg fire was 14, Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters said.