Ellreese Daniels is facing criminal charges for his involvement in the fatal Thirty-Mile Fire. His trial date has been changed from April 14 to May 5. Here is more information about the trial from the Wenatchee World:
SPOKANE — A federal judge presiding over the case of Ellreese Daniels on Friday put off making a decision on whether the jury should be allowed to visit the site of the Thirtymile Fire north of Winthrop where four firefighters died in 2001.
Daniels is charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter for failing to order his firefighters to a safe area as flames advanced toward him and his crew on July 10, 2001. He is also charged with seven counts of making false statements to investigators.
Daniels’ lawyer wants the jury to see the site because pictures and videos do not provide enough detail for the jury to judge if Daniels was negligent in not getting his crew to a safe spot.
“To deny the jurors the ability to view the scene will significantly impair Mr. Daniels’ right to present the defense of his case,” Daniels’ lawyer wrote in a recent motion.
Prosecutors say the site is so well documented that there’s no need for the jury to see in person the place where 10 firefighters survived the fire in a wide spot on a road, while four died in their fire shelters on a rocky slope above.
The judge did not say when he will decide if the jury should visit the site, said prosecutor Tom Hopkins.
The judge did push back the trial date from April 14 to May 5.
The International Association of Wildland Fire conducted a survey of over 3,300 firefighters about the repercussions of a firefighter facing criminal charges following an accident on a fire. HERE is a summary of their findings.