Father and son arrested on suspicion of starting the Caldor fire

LOS ANGELES – A father and son have been arrested on suspicion of starting the Caldor fire, a massive blaze that dangerously burnt near ...


LOS ANGELES – A father and son have been arrested on suspicion of starting the Caldor fire, a massive blaze that dangerously burnt near Lake Tahoe this year, scaring away the residents of the resort area.

El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office said wednesday that David Scott Smith, 66, and Travis Shane Smith, 32, were charged with “reckless arson” in connection with a wildfire that ravaged over 220,000 acres from mid-August.

The men, who are being held on bail set at $ 1 million each, have yet to be charged with a felony.

Mark Reichel, a Sacramento-based lawyer, said the Smiths hired him in August after their home and phone was ransacked and they were baffled by the idea they started the blaze.

“My clients and I literally sat down and waited for that day to come,” Mr. Reichel said. “As we sit here tonight, we have no idea the prosecution theory as to how the fire started.”

The prosecutor’s office did not provide details of what the men were accused of doing, and the US Forest Service, which assisted in the investigation, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Reichel said his customers were in the Eldorado National Forest for entertainment when they spotted a fire. They called 911 several times because their calls continued to drop, he said, and also alerted other campers to the blaze.

“They are from the region,” he says. “They love the forest and nature.

As Labor Day weekend approaches, the Caldor fire forced the evacuation of thousands inhabitants and tourists, suffocating the azure region of Tahoe in acrid smoke. The ski resorts were covered with fire retardants and the beaches were barren.

The fire, which killed no one, destroyed around 1,000 structures.

Lightning has caused an increasing number of fires in remote areas, prompting frantic evacuations and sparking debates on how to prevent and fight wild fires. Yet many of the largest, deadliest and most destructive fires in California in recent years have been started directly or indirectly by humans.

More specifically, Pacific Gas and Electric, the largest public utility in the state, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the deaths of 84 people killed in the 2018 camp fire, the deadliest in California history. The company did not maintain its equipment, which broke and started the fire.

That same year, a rancher hammered a metal stake in his yard to try to put out a wasp nest and started the ranch fire, which was part of the Mendocino complex, the third largest known fire in the state.

According to Cal Fire, the state’s largest fire agency, about 10% of forest fires in California are intentional. This summer, a professor of criminology was among several people charged with arson in a series of incidents in northern California.

The Caldor fire was the 15th largest in California history, reinforcing what experts have described as a frightening trend. Climate change has made vast swathes of the West warmer and drier, fueling a cycle of extreme weather conditions. Regardless of how wildfires are started, they burn faster and are more difficult to control.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Father and son arrested on suspicion of starting the Caldor fire
Father and son arrested on suspicion of starting the Caldor fire
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