Hunter Pleads Not Guilty to Stanislaus Rim Fire Charge

Almost a year after the infamous Rim Fire was started in the Stanislaus National Forest, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has officials indicted a Tuolomne County hunter for sparking the blaze. The man pleaded not guilty to the crime last week.

The hunter, Keith Matthew Emerald, will be kept in custody until his $60,000 bail is posted. His court date is set for October 14th. He is charged with two felonies, one for allowing a fire to spread beyond his control while temporary restrictions were in place for fires, and one for lying to a federal agent when questioned about his involvement in the fire.

The rim fire ultimately burned 257.000 acres before it was finally contained. It was the largest fire in the Sierra Nevada region in recorded history.

Members of the U.S. Forest Service say that the effects of the devastating fire will be felt for years to come through erosion and hazardous tree growth. Not only will the environment take years to recover, the $125 million spent to contain the fire will have a significant economic impact on the region.

If convicted, Emerald will face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each of his two felony counts. The fire restrictions he is accused of violating also carry a maximum of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Read more about the fire here.