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Ken Cocker
Ken Cocker
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Father and son arrested in connection with California’s Caldor Fire


(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — A father and son were being held in jail on $1 million bail each Thursday after they were arrested in connection with California’s Caldor Fire, which burned more than 200,000 acres, destroyed more than 1,000 structures and prompted the evacuation of South Lake Tahoe.

The El Dorado County district attorney’s office announced that 66-year-old David Scott Smith and his 32-year-old son, Travis Shane Smith, were arrested Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of “reckless arson, which caused inhabited properties to burn and resulted in great bodily injury to multiple victims.”

The two men were taken into custody on what the district attorney’s office described as a “Ramsey warrant,” which is issued before criminal charges are filed.

Prosecutors declined to provide more details on the allegations against the Smiths. A spokesperson for the district attorney’s office told ABC affiliate station KXTV in Sacramento that formal charges could be filed in the investigation by the end of the week.

Mark Reichel, an attorney for David and Travis Smith, told KXTV that the father and son are not currently facing charges of intentionally setting the Caldor Fire, which ignited in August in the El Dorado National Forest in the central Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Reichel said his clients were in the El Dorado National Forest on the day the fire started and were the first to alert authorities about the blaze. He said the Smiths also alerted campers in the area of the fire.

“These people called in the fire on 911. They called it in as soon as they saw it,” said Reichel, adding that the Smiths deny any involvement in setting the fire.

He said he has received no information from prosecutors about how investigators connected the father and son to the blaze and cautioned against a rush to judgment.

“We don’t know. We haven’t had a hearing, we haven’t had a trial and that’s when we find out what really happened,” Reichel said.

The Caldor Fire, the 15th largest wildfire in state history, started on Aug. 15 and quickly spread through El Dorado and Amador counties. The conflagration caused the evaluation of South Lake Tahoe over the Labor Day weekend and nearly wiped out the small community of Grizzly Flats, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire. The fire was contained on Oct. 21, according to Cal Fire.

Two civilians and three firefighters were injured in the blaze, according to Cal Fire.

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