West Virginia Department of Commerce

Emmons couple indicted on 2 counts stemming from 2019 wildfires

CHARLESTON, W.V. —  An Emmons couple has been indicted on two counts related to wildfires in February of last year, according to the West Virginia Division of Forestry (WVDOF).

Katie Jean Holstine and Lovell Ruben Holstine, who reside in Emmons on the Kanawha-Boone County line, were indicted on one count each for “Setting Fires to Lands of Another” 20-3-7, and Conspiracy 61-10-31, both felonies.

The officer who indicted the couple, Assistant State Forester John Bird of WVDOF’s Special Operations/Enforcement, presented the case with Boone County Prosecuting Attorney Keith Randolph before a grand jury on Sept. 22, 2020. The grand jury determined there was probable cause for criminal charges.

The wildfires occurred on Feb. 27, 2019 in the Dartmont area in Boone County. Combined, these fires burned 20 acres of forested land and 35.2 acres of non-forested land.

“I want to thank all of the county personnel from our foresters and drone usage to patrolman that have assisted me with these investigations,” Bird said. “Their patience and perseverance have made this case happen.”

WVDOF is also reminding West Virginians of fall fire season, which began on Oct. 1 and continues through Dec. 31. Burning vegetative materials is limited to the hours of 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. Any fires set during that time must be extinguished before 7 a.m. State residents are highly encouraged to learn the law before burning.

WVDOF’s Special Operations Unit is primarily responsible for the enforcement of forestry-related laws, rules and regulations. Anyone who witnesses a crime or violation such as arson is asked to report it to the WVDOF online or call 304-558-2788.

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