Juveniles Could Be Charged With Arson in Devastating Tennessee Wildfires, May Be Tried as Adults
The fires killed 14 people and destroyed or damaged more than 1,700 buildings in the Great Smoky Mountain region.
Authorities have detained two juveniles on suspicion of arson in the devastating Tennessee wildfires that left 14 dead.
On Wednesday, a petition was filed by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation in juvenile court charging the two subjects with aggravated arson.
Both were taken into custody and transported to a juvenile detention center.
At a press conference, officials declined to give names or ages for the juveniles and did little to hint at how they believe the suspects set the fires, which ripped through the Great Smoky Mountains region and damaged or destroyed some 2,000 structures.
However, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn said officials are determined to bring closure to the countless people who were affected.
Local District Attorney General James Dunn said that the juveniles could be charged as adults.
"Additional charges are being considered and all options are on the table including the possibility of seeking a transfer of these juveniles to adult criminal court," Dunn told reporters.
Aggravated arson is a felony in the state of Tennessee. If charged as adults and convicted, the suspects could face 15-25 years in jail and fines of up to $50,000.
The juveniles are entitled to a detention hearing within 72 hours in which a judge will decide whether they will be held with or without bond or if they should be released to their guardians.
While the fire is now more than 80 percent contained, affected residents are only just starting to pick up the pieces, with many coming home to find no home at all.
The event will air December 13 and feature performances by Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Alison Krauss and Parton.
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