SACRAMENTO – KCRA in Sacramento is reporting that federal authorities have moved to dismiss the charges against the man accused of starting the devastating Rim Fire because two if the key witnesses in the case have died.
Keith Matthew Emerald, 33, of Columbia was charged with igniting the massive fire in that destroyed nearly 257,000 acres near Yosemite National Park in 2013, when his campfire escaped his control.
KCRA reports that the witness who talked with Emerald shortly after his rescue from the fire area, died in a workplace accident in February, and the second witness, a helicopter pilot first on the scene, died of cardiac arrest in March. Reportedly, the court cannot use the statements of the witnesses given prior to the trial.
Emerald had pleaded not guilty to the four counts against him, and was out on bail pending the start of the trial.
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