Man charged with causing 2013 Rim Fire in California

A man has been charged for allegedly causing last summer's massive Rim Fire.

The suspect is Keith Matthew Emerald, 32, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California. He is facing charges of timber-set fire and lying to a government agency, both felonies, and fires left unattended and not extinguished, and violating a fire restriction order, both misdemeanors. At the time of Rim Fire, there was a temporary fire restriction in place.

Emerald, who is from Columbia in Tuolumne County, was rescued by a helicopter crew from Clavey River Canyon near where the Rim Fire started about an hour earlier on Aug. 17, 2013, court documents stated. He told authorities he had been on a hunting trip.

The fire blackened some 400 square miles of forest in Stanislaus National Forest and western Yosemite National Park. Dozens of structures were threatened. The fire wasn't fully extinguished until October 24, 2013.

In December 2013, the Tuolumne County District Attorney's Office said a hunter had started an illegal campfire in the forest, setting off the conflagration, and federal charges were expected. The hunter wasn't named at that time.


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