Individuals who started Hunter Falls fire could face penalties

Reported by: Jaime Hayden
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Updated: 5/20/2014 6:53 pm
RENO, Nev. ( & KRNV) - Fire crews are still battling the Hunter Falls fire. It's burned through 760 acres and is now 65 percent contained. Officials say the fire was started by humans, but the exact origin is still under investigation. News 4 learned what potential fines someone could face for leaving campfires burning.

"And the fine varies, but it’s a misdemeanor fine with a potential penalty of several thousand dollars," said Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest supervisor Bill Dunkelberger.

Dunkelberger says leaving a campfire burning is a crime that could also mean jail time.

"Well the misdemeanor actually does allow for jail time in very serious circumstances, but that would have to be extreme occasion,” said Dunkelberger.

And although the Hunter Falls fire is still under investigation, there is a possibility someone could face charges. Part of the investigation involves looking into a group of Reno area high school students who were having a bonfire in the area Saturday night.

"You know this fire so far has cost over $300,000 to fight,” said Dunkelberger. “If we do find somebody that is responsible for starting the fire, we actually may press charges and try to recover restitution of the suppression costs."

The investigation is expected to last another couple weeks. Dunkelberger says the top priority is completely containing the fire. He also says the weather is helping crews, but fire conditions are still very active.

"Before this rain, it is extremely tender dry out there, so folks need to be careful with any kind of open flames, cigarettes, and barbeques,” said Dunkelberger.

Dunkelberger also says fire restrictions are likely to be in affect around the region for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Crews are expected to fully contain the fire by Friday, depending on weather conditions. No homes or structures are in any danger at this time. And all areas around Hunter Lake Road and Hunter Creek trail areas are closed to the public.

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