It’s been three months since the Caldor Fire began, which blazed across three counties, El Dorado, Amador, and Alpine, and covered over 200,000 acres. The fire destroyed thousands of homes and structures, damaged ski areas like Sierra-at-Tahoe, and injured multiple people. After a joint investigation from The El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office, USDA Forest Service, Cal Fire, the California Department of Justice, and the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Crime Lab, the El Dorado County District Attorney has announced the arrest of the suspected arsons.
Father and son David Scott Smith, 66, and Travis Shane Smith, 32 have been arrested on a Ramey Warrant. The suspects were arrested on account of violating 452 of the California Penal Code “reckless arson” and are being held with a $1 million bail. A Ramey Warrant is issued before criminal charges are filed; however, charges are expected to be filed within the next 48 hours.
The suspects are scheduled for a court appearance Friday. Their attorney Mark Reichel stated they are innocent, saying they tried to call 911 when they spotted the fire as well as warned campers of the fire in the area. Reichel stated he does not know the accusation or how authorities believe the fire was set.
“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 said.
As a result of the fire, the regions it damaged are still recovering. Some areas are still smoldering, and people who lost houses are still homeless. Sierra-at-Tahoe is still reeling the effects. The fire will change the shape of the runs as well as serious damage to lifts. While firefighters were able to dampen the effects by slowing the fire’s pace with snowblowers, damages to the area are so severe that the resort won’t open until the 2022 season.