Updated: 4:00 p.m. Nov. 29, 2016
The Sockeye fire trial, which was scheduled to begin Tuesday, has been re-scheduled. At pre-trial hearing on Monday, Kevin Fitzgerald — attorney for defendant Greg Imig — asked the court to delay the trial until mid-January, due to an Imig family emergency.
Assistant Alaska district attorney Eric Senta opposed the motion, saying that numerous Willow area mushers had planned to attend the trial this week, and that a January date would interfere with the mushing season. Senta wants a one week delay.
Fitzgerald says that a “medical necessity” involving Imig’s father has put the elder Imig close to death. State Superior Court judge Michael Spaan agreed to the postponement.
No further action is scheduled for the legal proceedings until a pre-trial hearing on December 15.
Assistant DA Senta did not return calls for comment.
The trial of an Anchorage couple charged with igniting the devastating Sockeye fire last year is scheduled to start Tuesday in District court in Palmer.
The fire destroyed 55 Willow area homes and cost $8 million to fight.
State prosecutors say defendants Greg Imig, 60 and Amy DeWitt, 42, burned debris in June 2015 without properly clearing the area or keeping water on hand. The fire escaped into the forest, where hot, dry conditions and high winds fueled the blaze.
Efforts by state attorneys to negotiate a settlement stalled in mid-summer of this year. The state has charged Imig and DeWitt with eight misdemeanor counts, ranging from reckless endangerment to failure to obtain a burn permit.
The state expects to call scores of witnesses, such as firefighters, home-owners, state troopers and fire investigators.