A bow hunter pleaded not guilty Tuesday to starting an illegal campfire that sparked the massive Rim fire, the third-largest fire in recorded state history.
Keith Matthew Emerald, 32, of Columbia, Calif., surrendered to authorities earlier in the day, according to a U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman, and was taken into custody following a hearing on charges that he helped spark last year’s blaze, which scorched more than 250,000 acres in and around Yosemite National Park.
Emerald is charged with setting timber afire and lying to a government agency, both felonies. He is also charged with two misdemeanor counts of violating a fire restriction order, and leaving a fire unattended and unextinguished.
Ten people were injured and more than 100 structures were destroyed during the Rim fire, which started Aug. 17, 2013, in the Stanislaus National Forest.
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