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Caldor fire: father and son arrested on suspicion of starting California wildfire

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Caldor fire: father and son arrested on suspicion of starting California wildfire

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A father and his son were stopped On Wednesday, suspected of starting a massive California wildfire that destroyed scores of homes and forced tens of thousands to flee Lake Tahoe communities earlier this year, authorities said.

David Scott Smith, 66, and his son, Travis Shane Smith, 32, are charged with reckless arson in a warrant issued before formal charges were laid, the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office said .

Mark Reichel, the two men’s attorney, said they were arrested on Wednesday afternoon and reckless arson meant starting a fire by accident, but “to such an extent that it was considered reckless” .

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Firefighter Elroy Valadez sprays water on a localized fire from the Caldor Blaze along Highway 89 near South Lake Tahoe, Calif., September 2, 2021
(AP Photo / Jae C. Hong, file)

Authorities say they burned houses and seriously injured people in the blaze that broke out in August. The Caldor Fire burned more than 346 square miles from east of Sacramento to the Nevada border, threatening ski resorts and other prominent recreation areas.

The blaze destroyed more than 1,000 homes and other buildings as it passed through a wooded area mostly isolated from seasonal cabins.

The blaze crossed three northern counties, destroyed much of the small community of Grizzly Flats, and forced tens of thousands to evacuate the resort town of South Lake Tahoe before it was contained in October. Five people were injured.

It was one of two massive fires last summer that, for the first time in modern history, crossed the Sierra Nevada range.

Caldor fire: father and son arrested on suspicion of starting California wildfire

 | News Today

Seen in long camera exposure, chimneys stand in homes razed by the Caldor fire along Highway 50 on August 29, 2021, in Eldorado National Forest, California.
(AP Photo / Noah Berger, file)

El Dorado County District Attorney Vern Pierson provided few details about the Smith’s arrest, citing the investigation.

Reichel, the men’s lawyer, said: “They are absolutely 100% innocent.”

Reichel said he did not know the details of the charge, such as how authorities allege the fire was started.

He said Travis Smith was an electrician and was with his father near where the fire started. The son called 911 to report seeing flames, Reichel said.

Caldor fire: father and son arrested on suspicion of starting California wildfire

 | News Today

A firefighter ignites a flashback to prevent the Caldor fire from spreading near South Lake Tahoe, Calif., On Wednesday, September 1, 2021.
(AP Photo / Jae C. Hong, file)

The son made several calls to 911 because calls continued to drop in the hilly area, and the two also alerted campers to the blaze, Reichel said.

“Neither has ever had a problem with the law in their life. They are very law-abiding people, ”he said.

The pair have a court appearance scheduled for Friday, Reichel said.

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“No evidence was submitted to a court subject to my cross-examination (…)

The district attorney’s office said the case was developed with the US Forest Service, the California Fire Agency and the California Department of Justice, with help from the county attorney’s criminal lab. of Sacramento.

News Today Local news Caldor fire: father and son arrested on suspicion of starting California wildfire

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