Father and son arrested on suspicion of starting California’s Caldor fire

Authorities in Northern California announced the arrest of a father and son in connection with the Caldor fire, which burned for 67 days and threatened the community of South Lake Tahoe as it grew to become the 15th-largest wildfire in recorded California history.

David Scott Smith, 66, and his son, Travis Shane Smith, 32, were arrested on Ramey warrants, which are issued before criminal charges are filed, according to the El Dorado County district attorney’s office.

Both men are accused of “reckless arson,” prosecutors said.

Formal criminal charges are pending.

The Caldor fire started Aug. 14 and was contained Oct. 21, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Flames consumed 221,835 acres, destroyed 1,003 structures and damaged 81 more.

Five people were injured, according to Cal Fire.

Together with the Dixie fire, the Caldor blaze marked what officials called an “unprecedented” fire season that saw both conflagrations become the first to burn from one side of the Sierra Nevada to the other.

By late August, the fire entered the Lake Tahoe Basin and moved steadily toward South Lake Tahoe and the Nevada border, prompting a slew of evacuations as firefighters worked to herd the flames away from the community.

But as the flaming front moved toward South Lake Tahoe, favorable weather conditions helped firefighters keep the blaze at bay. Evacuation orders in the community were eventually lifted.

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