Hunter charged with sparking massive Rim Fire
FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury Thursday indicted a 32-year-old hunter from Tuolumne County with starting the Rim Fire, which blackened more than 250,000 acres of forest in and around Yosemite National Park last year.
Keith Matthew Emerald of Columbia, Calif., is accused of leaving a camp fire unattended and unextinguished on Aug. 17, 2013. He is charged with two felonies — setting timber afire and lyi9ng to a government agent — and two misdemeanors — violating a fire restriction and leaving a fire unattended.
The maximum sentence for the felonies aid five years in prison each. The misdemeanor counts are punishable by a maximum of six months each.
The Rim Fire was the third-largest blaze in state history. It injured 10 people and burned more than 100 structures over nine weeks.