SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A father and son had been arrested Wednesday on suspicion of beginning a massive California wildfire that destroyed many houses and compelled tens of 1000’s of individuals to flee Lake Tahoe communities earlier this yr, authorities mentioned.
David Scott Smith, 66, and his son, Travis Shane Smith, 32, are accused of reckless arson in a warrant issued earlier than formal fees are filed, the El Dorado County District Lawyer’s workplace mentioned.
Mark Reichel, the lawyer for each males, mentioned they had been arrested Wednesday afternoon and that reckless arson means beginning a blaze by chance however “to such a level that it was thought-about reckless.”
Authorities allege they induced houses to burn and other people to be significantly injured within the fireplace that started in August. The Caldor fireplace scorched greater than 346 sq. miles from east of Sacramento to the Nevada border, threatening ski resorts and different distinguished leisure areas.
The hearth destroyed more than 1,000 homes and other buildings whereas crossing a largely distant forested space of seasonal cabins.
The hearth crossed by way of three northern counties, destroyed a lot of the small group of Grizzly Flats and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate the resort city of South Lake Tahoe earlier than it was contained in October. 5 folks had been injured.
It was one in all two large fires final summer season that for the primary time in trendy historical past crossed the Sierra Nevada vary.
El Dorado County District Lawyer Vern Pierson offered few particulars concerning the arrest of the Smiths, citing the investigation.
Reichel, the lads’s lawyer, mentioned: “They’re completely 100% harmless.”
Reichel mentioned he didn’t know particulars of the accusation, similar to how authorities allege the hearth was set.
He mentioned Travis Smith is an electrician and was together with his father close to the place the hearth began. The son referred to as 911 to report seeing flames, Reichel mentioned.
The son made a number of 911 calls as a result of the calls stored dropping within the rugged space, and each males additionally warned campers concerning the fireplace, Reichel mentioned.
“Neither one has ever been in bother with the regulation of their life. They’re very law-abiding folks,” he mentioned.
The pair have a scheduled courtroom look on Friday, Reichel mentioned.
“There was no proof submitted right into a courtroom topic to my cross-examination … that proves any of the prosecution’s proof but. So I urge everybody to attend and listen to what actually occurred earlier than they type any opinions,” Reichel added.
The district lawyer’s workplace mentioned the case was developed with the U.S. Forest Service, California’s firefighting company and the California Division of Justice, with assist from the Sacramento County District Lawyer’s crime lab.