Police say teen charged in Party Rock Fire - FOX Carolina 21

Police say teen charged in Party Rock Fire

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Party Rock fire (File) Party Rock fire (File)
LAKE LURE, NC (FOX Carolina) -

Police say a 17-year-old is being charged in connection with a fire that burned over 7,000 acres in Lake Lure, Chimney Rock Village and Bat Cave, NC last year.

The young man is facing a class two misdemeanor charge in connection with the Party Rock Fire back in November of 2016. He made his first appearance in a Rutherford County Superior Court earlier this week after being served with a criminal summons in July by District Attorney Ted Bell.

According to the town of Lake Lure's official website, the teen is facing charges after accused of 'negligently setting or causing to be set on fire of any woods, land or fields in any country under the protection of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources."

The fire burned for over 4 weeks last November, mowing down about 2,489 acres on NC State Park property, 4,653 acres on private property. The cost of the firefighting efforts are estimated at $7 million.

Attorney Brian Oglesby was assigned to the case, per a press released on town of Lake Lure's website.

District Attorney Bell said that the teen was charged with a misdemeanor despite the massive size of the fire because under North Carolina law, someone who starts a wildfire "can only be charged with a felony if it is intentionally set or if it ends up burning a building or results in a serious injury."

“Because of the excellent work by all of the people involved in fighting this fire there was no damage to any buildings and no one was injured, and the evidence is it was negligently set,” Bell said.

The teen can be sued by property owners who had land damaged by the blaze, however.

“The Party Rock fire presented our area with some tremendous challenges,” said Lake Lure Mayor Bob Keith.” There remains certainly a great deal of interest in the investigation, but we are fully confident in our state and local law enforcement officials to work through the court process in this matter.”

The teen is schedule to appear in court for a probably cause hearing on August 30. An investigation into the Party Rock Fire is ongoing.

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