Franklin man convicted of starting fire on federal land
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Dena J. King announced that a federal jury sitting in Asheville found Casey Lee Evans, 42, of Franklin, guilty of starting a fire that burned more than 70 acres of federal land.
According to filed court documents, evidence presented at trial and witness testimony, on April 3, 2020, law enforcement in Franklin received a call concerning a fire that was actively burning in the area of Cals Cove Road. According to trial evidence, over the course of the investigation law enforcement determined that Evans willfully started the fire, which originated within the Nantahala National Forest. The fire burned for several days before it was successfully extinguished. In total, the fire burned approximalely 70 acres of federal land and 20 more acres of private property.
Evans was convicted of willfully setting a fire on federal land, which carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Following the guilty verdict, Evans was remanded into federal custody. A sentencing date has not been set.
In making today’s announcement, U.S. Attorney King thanked the U.S. Forest Service, the North Carolina Forest Service, and the Otto Fire Department for their investigation of the case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville is in charge of the prosecution.