TBI: 2 juveniles charged with aggravated arson in Gatlinburg wildfire investigation

Video of the news conference by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

GATLINBURG, Tenn. – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says aggravated arson charges have been filed against two juveniles in connection to the ongoing East Tennessee wildfire investigation.

The TBI made the announcement Wednesday afternoon. The juveniles are being held in the Sevier County Juvenile Justice Center.  They are from Tennessee, but not from Sevier County.

TBI Director Mark Gwyn said this is an active, ongoing investigation.  “We stand with you and are committed to making sure justice is served in this case,” he said to people affected by the deadly fires.  “This is active, and ongoing, and we still have a lot of work to do,” Gwyn added.

James Dunn, 4th District Attorney General, said the juveniles will have a detention hearing in the next 72 hours.  A juvenile court judge will determine whether or not they will be held with bond, without bond, or released.

“Additional charges are being considered and all options available to the state in dealing with juveniles are on the table, including the possibility of seeking a transfer of these juveniles to adult criminal court,” said Dunn.

The wildfires in Sevier County, Tennessee killed 14 people, injured 134 and damaged 1,700 structures in and around Gatlinburg.

The fire  originated in Chimney Tops area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park on or about Nov 23, 2016.  The fire later spread to Gatlinburg and surrounding areas.  The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the National Park Service and Sevier County Sheriff’s Office have conducted a joint investigation into the cause of fire.

Businesses have been working around the clock to try to reopen to the public by mid-week.