Father, son accused of starting Caldor fire in California

A father and son were arrested on Wednesday in connection with the Caldor fire, which burned for 67 days and became the 15th largest wildfire in California.

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According to the El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office, David Scott Smith, 66, and his son, Travis Shane Smith, 32, were accused of “reckless arson” in connection with the fire, which burned more than 220,000 acres beginning in mid-August.

Reckless arson, also known as reckless burning, is a less severe charge than “malicious” arson. Malicious arson requires officials to prove that an individual or individuals “willfully and maliciously sets fire to or burns ... any structure, forest land, or property.”

The maximum sentence for anyone found guilty of reckless arson is six years, according to SFGate.com.

The fire threatened the community of South Lake Tahoe, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Formal criminal charges are pending, the newspaper reported.

According to the district attorney’s office, each man is being held on a $1 million bail, KCRA reported.

The Caldor fire was ignited on Aug. 14 and was contained Oct. 21, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Flames destroyed 221,835 acres, destroyed 1,003 structures and damaged 81 others, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The fire was finally contained after favorable weather conditions helped firefighters’ efforts. Evacuation orders in the South Lake Tahoe community were eventually lifted, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Five people were injured, according to Cal Fire.

The agency said that about 10% of wildfires in California are intentionally set, according to The New York Times.