2 Juveniles Charged In Sevier County Wildfires

Posted at 2:13 PM, Dec 07, 2016

Those with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced two juveniles have been charged for their role in starting the Sevier County wildfires.

The announcement came during a press conference at 2 p.m. Wednesday in Sevierville.

TBI officials said they had worked tirelessly, along with members of the ATF and National Parks Service, to investigate the case.

The juveniles were charged with aggravated arson. Additional charges were being considered. Their ages and gender were not released.

The two were being held in the Sevier County Juvenile Detention Center with a hearing pending within the next 72 hours. In that hearing, the court will decide whether the two will be held with bond, without bond, or released.

Additional options dealing with juveniles in court were being considered, including the possibility of moving them to adult court.

Reports stated the juveniles were being accused of starting the fire on or around November 23.

Authorities said the investigation remained ongoing, therefore they could not release whether the juveniles were related, in or out of school, or whether they were with parents or alone.

Officials had confirmed the two were residents of Tennessee, but not of Sevier County.

Those with the TBI said they offered their sincere condolences to those who lost family members, friends, homes, and businesses in the wildfires.

Authorities said the public was critical in helping find those believed to be responsible. Within just minutes of the tip line going live, officials said they received around 40 tips.

District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn has been set to prosecute the case. Dunn has served the Fourth Judicial District since he was elected in 2006, which included Sevier, Cocke, Jefferson, and Grainger Counties.

The wildfires in Sevier County claimed at least 14 lives and burned tens of thousands of acres.

Wednesday, home and business owners were allowed to return full-time to their properties. Those with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Sevier County, and the city of Gatlinburg warned residents to be safe as they returned to those areas.

Officials told owners to expect debris, exposed electrical wires, smoldering materials, and unstable structures, among other hazards. They were asked to properly survey their property before allowing children or pets in the area.

For tips on cleanup and possible hazards, click here.

Residents were told to expect discolored water due to a substantial loss of water in storage tanks and water lines. Officials said running a substantial amount of water through the plumbing system should help.

Anyone with questions about water service in that area has been asked to contact the Gatlinburg Water Department at 865-436-4681.

Those on Birds Creek in the county have been asked to contact the Sevier County Water Department at 865-744-3852 regarding water issues.

While crews worked hard to restore power to many areas, they've asked residents in that area to contact them about downed power lines and urged everyone to remember they should never cross downed power lines. To report them, call 865-453-2887.

Residents were also asked to immediately call 865-453-3272 if they smell gas on their property.

As always, to report lost or missing pets, authorities asked residents to call the Sevier County Humane Society at 865-453-7000.

An official recovery website has been launched by Sevier County. Officials there stated the site, along with a hotline, have been set to serve as resources for information related to the wildfires.

Visit that site online by clicking here or call the hotline at 211 (for local residents) or 865-215-4211 (for those outside the Sevier County area). Authorities said the call center was set to be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.