Father and son accused of starting California’s Caldor wildfire last summer

A father and son have been arrested on suspicion of starting a massive California wildfire earlier this year.

The Caldor fire, which began in August, scorched more than 300 square miles from east of Sacramento to the Nevada border.

The fire destroyed almost 1,000 structures and forced tens of thousands of people to flee, including some 20,000 people from South Lake Tahoe.

The flames were finally contained in October.

David Scott Smith, 66, and his son, Travis Shane Smith, 32, are accused of “reckless arson which caused inhabited properties to burn and resulted in great bodily injury to multiple victims”, the El Dorado County District Attorney’s office said.

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August: California’s Caldor fire destroys homes

The office said the pair were arrested under Ramey warrants, explaining that a Ramey warrant is issued before criminal charges are filed.

According to the Smiths’ lawyer Mark Reichel, reckless arson means starting a fire by accident but “to such a degree that it was considered reckless”.

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It is not clear exactly how the fire was allegedly started but Mr Reichel said that Travis Smith is an electrician and was with his father near the scene.

The son called emergency services several times to report seeing flames, but phone reception was bad and his calls kept cutting out, Mr Reichel said.

He said the two men are “absolutely 100% innocent”, adding: ” Neither one has ever been in trouble with the law in their life – they are very law-abiding people”.

Both men are expected to appear in court on Friday.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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