EL DORADO COUNTY, Calif. — Two people are accused of reckless arson in connection to the Caldor Fire that burned more than 200,000 acres in El Dorado and Amador counties, according to the El Dorado County District Attorney's Office's Facebook post.
According to the district attorney's office, 66-year-old David Scott Smith and 32-year-old Travis Shane Smith were arrested for "reckless arson," which caused inhabited properties to burn and resulted in great bodily injury to multiple victims.
How the two men are connected to the Caldor Fire was not described by the district attorney's public announcement.
Mark Reichel, the attorney representing both men, told ABC10 that his clients are not currently facing charges for intentionally setting the Caldor Fire. He said that they reported the wildfire to authorities and warned nearby campers.
"They say, 'even if this was an accident, you know, we're gonna make you pay for it, punish you for it,'" Reichel said.
Reichel said so far no evidence has been submitted as to why the district attorney's office believes what ignited the Caldor Fire and that it is too early for him to form opinions regarding the case.
About 1,003 buildings were destroyed and 81 others were damaged from the Caldor Fire, according to Cal Fire's recent update. About 16 firefighters and two civilians were injured.
Jennifer McKim-Hibbard lost her home in Grizzly Flats to the Caldor Fire. She says she is not angry but she does want answers.
"Not that any of the answers are going to make the situation any better," McKim Hibbard said. "But having those answers, I think will help a lot of people with the closure."
A spokesperson for the district attorney's office said both men were being held on $1 million bail and charges could be filed within the next 48 hours.
The Caldor Fire forced the residents of the city of South Lake Tahoe to evacuate as the flames entered the Tahoe Basin. The city at the time projected the local economy would lose about $40 million due to the wildfire.
South Lake Tahoe and much of the lake were closed because of the evacuations during what was normally a busy Labor Day weekend.
Galt Police Officer Harminder Grewal and fellow officer Kapri Herrera were on their way to the Caldor Fire driving along Highway 99 in Elk Grove when they were hit head-on by another car. Grewal died four days later.
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In California, fires are burning more intensely than ever before. Megafires destroy entire neighborhoods. Some of the deadliest fires have been caused by our own electric grid, but all fires are burning worse because of climate change and an unhealthy forest landscape.