Watch CBS News

Suspects In Caldor Fire Deny Any Wrongdoing; Claim They Called 911 After Seeing Flames

EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS13) - Two men are under arrest, accused of starting the Caldor Fire earlier this year.

On Wednesday, the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office announced that father and son David Scott Smith, 66, and Travis Shane Smith, 32, are under arrest on charges of reckless arson in connection with the fire, which burned more than 200,000 acres in El Dorado and Amador Counties.

They are being held in the El Dorado County Jail in Placerville on $1 million bail each, and are expected to be arraigned by Friday.

caldor suspects

The two men are accused of violating section 452 of the California Penal Code, commonly referred to as "reckless arson," which caused inhabited properties to burn and resulted in great bodily injury to multiple victims. Unlike malicious arson, reckless arson charge can be filed against someone who sets a fire without intending to.

Attorney Mark Reichel has been representing the men since August and says they didn't start the fire. He says the men spotted flames near the origin in the area of Omo Ranch, south of Grizzly Flats, and called 911. Reichel didn't respond to the question of what the Smiths were doing in the area at the time of the fire.

The El Dorado County District Attorney's Office worked together with the USDA Forest Service, Cal Fire, the California Department of Justice and the Sacramento County District Attorney's Crime Lab to investigate the cause of the Caldor Fire.

The fire started on the evening of August 14, 2021, and was active for 67 days. It was announced contained on October 21, but not before it burned 221,835 acres, including nearly the entire community of Grizzly Flats. The fire burned more than 1,000 structures and five people were injured.

The fire spanned three counties: El Dorado, Amador, and Alpine Counties.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.