Rim Fire suspect makes bail

Union Democrat staff

Tuolumne County resident Keith Emerald, accused of accidentally starting last year's Rim Fire, was released on a $60,000 bail bond Friday.

Emerald was indicted by a federal grand jury on Aug. 7 on four counts for violating a forest order by starting an illegal campfire, letting it escape and burn timber, and then lying about it to investigators.

He pleaded not guilty in his first U.S. District Court appearance in Fresno on Tuesday.

Emerald had been out of custody, but in contact with law enforcement since shortly after the fire started in August 2013. He turned himself over to U.S. Marshall custody on Tuesday and remained incarcerated through the week while details were worked out on his bond.

He was first going to put up two pieces of property - one his and one his mother's - for the bond, which was to value no less than $60,000. He then requested instead that the court accept a check for $60,000 from his grandmother.

On Friday, the court accepted the $60,000bond, with a few special terms of his release.

For the complete story, see the Aug. 18 edition of The Union Democrat.

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