A father and son were arrested this week on suspicion of starting the Caldor Fire which burned more than 220,00 acres, including the destruction of more than 1,000 structures near Lake Tahoe. While law enforcement remains tight-lipped on the case against the men, formal charges reveal more details into the heavily publicized case.
David Scott Smith, 66, and Travis Shane Smith, 32, have been arrested by the El Dorado Sheriff’s Department for “reckless arson, which caused inhabited properties to burn and resulted in great bodily injury to multiple victims.” The accused were arrested on Ramey warrants, which are issued before criminal charges are filed.
On Friday, the El Dorado County District Attorney announced that both men are being charged with three felonies relating to starting the fire, although the initial cause was not yet released. Those charges come with enhancements for causing bodily harm and the burning of multiple structures. On top of those charges, both men were charged with a felony for possessing a silencer for a firearm, while Travis was charged with converting a firearm to a machine gun.
Although the charges were very serious against the father and son, they still don’t indicate how the fire was started. After the men had their homes and phones searched by law enforcement, they hired attorney Mark Reichel, who said the men called 911 and warned campers in the El Dorado National Forest after seeing the flames near the onset of the fire.
“My clients and I have literally just sat and waited for this day to come,” Reichel said to the New York Times. “As we sit here tonight, we have no idea what the prosecution’s theory is on how the fire started.”
“They’re from the area,” he said. “They love the forest and nature.”
The Caldor Fire burned 221,835 acres over a two month span, blazing through the El Dorado National Forest and eventually into the Tahoe Basin. 1,003 structures were burned in the fire, including complete devastation in Grizzly Flats and severe damage at Sierra-at-Tahoe ski resort.
Here are the formal charges from the El Dorado County District Attorney: