The two Anchorage residents charged with causing the Sockeye Fire were burning lawn debris, according to charging documents filed with the Third District Court in Palmer. The affidavit, filed by investigator Thomas Greiling, says that there was evidence of three piles burning at the Ringler Circle lot where the fire began.
According to the affidavit, multiple spent fireworks were discovered on the scene, but Greiling says that there is no conclusive evidence that they were part of the cause of the 7,200-plus acre blaze.
The affidavit claims that Greg Imig admitted to burning four piles of debris on the property, and that Imig was not certain that the burn piles were fully extinguished before leaving them unattended.
The charging documents say that Amy Dewitt also admitted to burning debris piles. Dewitt told investigators that she was unsure if one of the piles was out, and she placed boards on it, believing that they would begin to burn if the fire was still hot. Greiling believes that particular pile is the one that ignited nearby woodlands and started the Sockeye Fire.
Imig, Dewitt, and Dewitt’s juvenile son left the lot in a motorhome due to the fire. Dewitt says she called 9-1-1 from the property before leaving. Greiling says Dewitt did not provide the location or cause of the fire to authorities. The affidavit says there is evidence of a rapid exit from the property, and that a chainsaw, gas cans, and jack pads for a motorhome.
Greg Imig and Amy Dewitt are charged with eight misdemeanors related to the ignition of the Sockeye Fire, including burning without a permit, failing to clear the burn area, allowing the fire to spread, leaving a fire unattended, criminally negligent burning, and three counts of reckless endangerment. Four of the charges are Class A misdemeanors, and carry maximum penalties of $10,000 and one year in jail. The other four charges carry penalties up to $500 and six months in jail. Arraignment is scheduled for July 28th.
A call to Greg Imig was not returned before deadline.