GATLINBURG, TN - NOVEMBER 29: The remains of a Jeep rental business smolders after a wildfire November 29, 2016 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Thousands of people have been evacuated from the area and over 100 houses and businesses were damaged or destroyed after drought conditions helped the fire spread through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Photo: Brian Blanco
Photo: Brian Blanco

Man who lost wife, 2 daughters in Gatlinburg fire forgives teens

He lost his wife and two daughters in the Gatlinburg wildfires. But the man with ties to the Dayton, Ohio, area said he forgives the teens accused of starting the deadly fires.

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On Friday, Grant Reed of Centerville shared the letter his son, Michael, wrote to the teens.

In his letter, Michael Reed said he knows the youths did not mean for the fires to kill anyone, and said that his family is praying for them. Reed’s wife, Constance, 34, and daughters Chloe, 12, and Lily, 9, perished in the wildfires.

“When I first read the letter, I could tell it was Michael’s words, it came from Michael’s heart, it’s the way that he talks, and he’s processing all of this stuff that’s happened … and I know that he doesn’t want that story about this being caused by two juveniles to harm the love that he has for his family.”

The wildfires left 14 people dead, another 175 injured and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate. Damage was valued at more than $500 million to the more than 2,400 houses, businesses and other buildings destroyed. The federal government said nearly 20,000 acres of Great Smoky Mountains National Park were scorched.

If the teens are convicted of aggravated arson they could spend up to 60 years behind bars if they are convicted. If they are convicted of more serious murder charges, they could spend the rest of their lives in prison.

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