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Feds Retain Prosecution In Local Wildfire

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Teton County has decided not to assume the prosecutorial role for the man accused of causing the Horsethief Canyon Fire south of Jackson last September.  County Prosecuting Attorney Steve Weichman says it was decided that it would be more appropriate for federal authorities to retain the case since federal authorities spent more money in fighting the fire and the fire was primarily on federal land.  Furthermore, Weichman says the state statute is not as strong in this case as the federal statute is.  At the same time, Weichman points out that the case is more one of restitution for damage caused by the fire, rather than one of punishment.  In fact, Weichman says it is still not clear whether any law was broken. The fire was found to have originated near a burn-barrel in the back yard belonging to James Anderson, who called the blaze in and has since cooperated with authorities in their subsequent investigation.  By the conclusion of the fire, nearly 34-hundred acres had burned and almost $9-million dollars had been spent on its suppression.  As yet, federal authorities have not filed charges in the case.

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