Sevier County to release wildfire records next week

GATLINBURG (WATE) – Officials in Sevier County say they plan to release all requested records in relation to November’s wildfires sometime next week.

The news comes eight months after the devastating fires that took 14 lives and caused around a billion dollars in damage.

District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn issued a letter in December asking for no parties to talk about the case.

Juvenile Judge Jeff Rader put out an order the day before asking only judges, jurors and lawyers covering the case to remain quiet. He later issued an order clarifying that he only meant for his order to apply to parties directly involved with the two juveniles who had been charged with starting the fire.

The charges were later dropped against the juveniles because Dunn said it was “highly unlikely and improbably that the Chimney Tops II fire would have left the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and reached Gatlinburg.” There was also question of whether Dunn had jurisdiction to prosecute a case within the national park.

It is not yet known if U.S. attorneys will file federal charges against the juveniles.

The cities of Pigeon Forge and Sevierville have already complied with records requests. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has said it is in the process of doing so and discovered nearly all of the phone calls to its emergency operations center the night of the fires had been lost.

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