Legal posturing begins in Rim Fire aftermath

rimfireBoth sides are girding their loins over the Rim Fire case.

Keith Matthew Emerald, a 32 year old man and resident of Columbia, a town in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California, is accused in a four-count indictment or starting the Rim Fire when he lost control of an illegal campfire on August 17,2013.  In August of this year he pled not guilty to the charges.

The Rim Fire burned 400 square miles of land in California, including parts of Sequoia National Forest and Yosemite National Park over the course of two months.  The fire destroyed 11 homes and cost $125 million to fight.

In August a grand jury returned the four-count indictment against Emerald, alleging that he started an illegal campfire on August 17, 2013 in an area where such fires were prohibited and that the fire spread beyond his control.

Federal Public Defender Janet Bateman, representing Emerald, told a judge on Tuesday that she is preparing a motion seeking evidence on behalf of her client.  She says that prosecutors aren’t providing all of the evidence they have collected against her client.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Rooney says he has provided the defense with exhaustive evidence.

Emerald is free on bail, and did not appear at the pretrial hearing.

The damage done by the Rim Fire will take decades to heal, although life has begun to return to the affected areas.