Jury begins deliberations for Alaska couple charged with starting 2015 Sockeye Firea

Sockeye Fire

Above: Sockeye Fire, June 14, 2015. Photo by Brent Johnson.

A jury this week is weighing whether an Anchorage, Alaska, couple is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of carelessly starting the destructive Sockeye Fire in in June, 2015.

Amy DeWitt, 43, and Greg Imig, are charged with a dozen counts each related to the fire. Among them: second-degree negligent burning, burning without clearing the area, allowing the wildfire to spread and reckless endangerment, the Alaska Dispatch News reported. If convicted, they face fines and potential jail time.

From the Alaska Dispatch News coverage of the weeks-long trial:

The state contends the fire started when a burn pit on the edge of Imig’s Willow property crept out into the forest in warm and windy conditions. It was their recklessness, Senta told jurors Wednesday, that led to the blaze that burned over 7,000 acres and destroyed over 100 structures, including 55 homes.

Through the course of the trial defense attorneys disagreed, arguing the state forestry investigation was flawed in both the scope and the science.

Defense attorneys and private investigators maintained the state’s investigation was inconclusive as to the fire’s cause. They also cited the Wildfire Origin and Cause and Determination Handbook, arguing state investigators should have better documented the property and taken more steps to allay any “confirmation bias.”

The Sockeye Fire burned 7,220 acres and destroyed 55 homes.

Author: Jason Pohl

In addition to writing for Wildfire Today, Jason Pohl reports on law enforcement and public safety issues for the Fort Collins Coloradoan newspaper.

2 thoughts on “Jury begins deliberations for Alaska couple charged with starting 2015 Sockeye Firea”

  1. Read the transcipts.It seems a little odd that a civilian upon egress from thier property “went to find the source of the fire”. My experience is that most folks move away from a wildfire as far and as fast as possible. Something is not adding up here in her testimony

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