Father, son charged with sparking Caldor Fire plead not guilty

Thomas Frey and Eric Jaramishian
Mountain Democrat
Father and son David Scott Smith, 66, and Travis Shane Smith, 32, appear virtually at their arraignment on Dec. 10 at El Dorado County Superior Court, pleading not guilty on all charges against them.
Eric Jaramishian/Mountain Democrat

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The father and son suspected of causing the Caldor Fire pleaded not guilty to all felony counts and enhancements in their first El Dorado County Superior Court appearance Friday.

The criminal complaint filed by the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office states David Scott Smith, 66, of Somerset and Travis Shane Smith, 32, of Folsom are each charged with recklessly setting the 221,835-acre Caldor Fire causing structures, forest land and personal property to burn along with causing great bodily injury to multiple people.

The charges carry enhancements in regards to the structure damage and injuries.

Travis received an additional felony charge for reportedly unlawfully and intentionally converting a firearm to a machine gun or knowingly manufacturing a machine gun between the dates of Aug. 9 and Aug. 14.

Both Travis and David Smith received another felony for unlawfully possessing a silencer for firearms between Aug. 11 and Sept. 23.

“They are completely innocent. They had no intention nor were involved in any setting of a fire,” said David’s attorney Linda Parisi.

The Smiths were out “enjoying the land like anyone would,” according to Travis Smith’s attorney Mark Reichel. He said his clients called 911 to report the fire and warned people on their way out of the area.

“That’s not the conduct of somebody who’s behaving recklessly,” Parisi said. “That’s responsible conduct.”

The Smiths hired Reichel in August after their homes and phones were searched. Parisi said she knows Reichel very well.

On Wednesday, the Smiths were arrested and booked into the El Dorado County Jail in Placerville with bail set at $1 million each, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

There will be further court proceedings Monday at 1 p.m.

The Caldor Fire began Aug. 14 east of Omo Ranch and south of Grizzly Flat, destroying more than 1,000 homes and structures.

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