Charges dropped against 2 youths in Tennessee wildfires

FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, file photo, smoke rises from destroyed homes, many burned down to the foundation, the day after a wildfire that hit Gatlinburg, Tenn. (Paul Efird/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Two juveniles are no longer charged with starting the Tennessee wildfires that killed 14 people in November.

In a statement Friday, District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn said prosecutors can’t prove the youth were responsible because there were other factors contributing to the fire’s seriousness, such as 80-mph (130-kph) winds and downed power lines that ignited flames.

In December, Dunn announced charges of aggravated arson against the juveniles in connection with the deadly blaze.

Dunn said the youths were initially charged with causing a fire in the Chimney Tops area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park that blew into Gatlinburg, ravaging the vacation town.

Defense attorney Gregory Isaacs said Friday that the evidence showed the juveniles didn’t cause the death and devastation.

Dunn also cited jurisdiction issues within the federal park.

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