Speed Reads

California Burning

Father and son arrested on suspicion of sparking California's Tahoe-threatening Caldor Fire

A father and son were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of starting California's Caldor Fire, which burned from Aug. 14 until fire crews fully contained it Oct. 21. The fire spread across more than 221,000 acres, destroyed nearly 800 structures and hundreds of acres of ski runs at Sierra-at-Tahoe, burned the town of Grizzly Flats to the ground, and forced about 50,000 people to evacuate from around Lake Tahoe and along the Highway 50 corridor, including the entire city of South Lake Tahoe.

David Scott Smith, 66, and Travis Shane Smith, 32, were arrested for reckless arson on a Ramey warrant, meaning a judge approved their detention before prosecutors filed formal charges, the Reno Gazette Journal explains. The investigation that led to the duo was conducted by the U.S. Forest Service and El Dorado County district attorney's office. 

Mark Reichel , a lawyer for the Smiths, told USA Today that Travis Smith called 911 after seeing the flames and "they are 100% innocent of the charges." He said he is not sure what evidence investigators found linking his clients to the fire, but the Smiths "definitely were not intentionally setting a fire."