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.
— Alaska Dispatch News (@adndotcom) May 11, 2017