Father And Son Arrested For Allegedly Starting Wildfire That Displaced Thousands

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Jorge Velasco Contributor
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Two men were arrested Wednesday afternoon in connection to the Caldor Fire that burned more than 200,000 acres and displaced thousands of people.

David Scott Smith, 66, and his son, 32-year-old Travis Shane Smith, were arrested by authorities after allegedly starting the wildfire near the western slope of the Sierra Nevada in mid-August, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The pair are accused of reckless arson and formal charges are yet to be filed, according to the El Dorado County District Attorney’s office.

Law enforcement suspects the two men set fire to several properties and caused multitudes of people to be seriously injured, destroying more than 1,000 homes and several other buildings, according to the AP. The fire spread into California and came extremely close to Lake Tahoe, best known for its ski resorts and other getaway destinations, CBS News reported(RELATED: Authorities Charge Ex-Professor With Starting Four Wildfires)

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 30: Evacuee Mel Smothers plays violin as he waits in a miles-long traffic jam on Hwy 50 as people evacuate ahead of the Caldor Fire on August 30, 2021 in South Lake Tahoe, California. The fire continues to advance towards South Lake Tahoe and a red flag warning has been issued as high winds begin to kick up. The fire has burned over 175,000 acres, destroyed hundreds of homes and is currently 14 percent contained. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“They are absolutely 100% innocent,” said attorney Mark Reichel, who is defending the father-and-son pair, according to the AP. “There has been no evidence submitted into a court subject to my cross-examination … that proves any of the prosecution’s evidence yet. So I urge everyone to wait and hear what really happened before they form any opinions.”

Reichel also added that the two men warned campers near the fire and that Travis called 911 multiple times but were mostly dropped because he was in an area with poor cell phone service, the AP reported.

The case was developed by several government agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service, California’s firefighting agency and California’s Department of Justice, the district attorney’s office said.

David and Travis both posted a $1 million bail and will be arraigned by Friday, CBS News reported.