Father, son blamed for California wildfire out on lower bail

Dec 14, 2021, 2:37 PM | Updated: 5:04 pm

PLACERVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A father and son charged with sparking a devastating Northern California wildfire that destroyed about 1,000 homes near Lake Tahoe earlier this year are out of jail after a judge vastly reduced their bail, largely rejecting prosecutors’ arguments that the duo posed a flight risk.

Travis Shane Smith, 32, had his $1 million bail reduced to $50,000 and his father David Scott Smith, 66, had his $1 million bail reduced to $25,000 on Monday after their attorneys argued the men had no criminal history and no reason to leave behind their families, The Sacramento Bee reported.

The Smiths were arrested Dec. 8 and charged in El Dorado County with recklessly starting a fire and illegal possession of a silencer. Travis Smith is also charged with illegal conversion or manufacture of a machine gun.

Travis Smith’s attorney, Mark Reichel, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that prosecutors have not laid out their theory as to how the men started the Aug. 14 Caldor Fire, which destroyed about 1,000 homes and other buildings, injured five people and forced tens of thousands of others to flee their homes.

“They’re very happy to be out,” Reichel said. “They weren’t very happy to be arrested.”

Prosecutor Nora Hall argued that potential prison sentences — at least a dozen years for each man — made them potential flight risks and that Shane Smith’s social media posts indicated a lack of concern for proper firearms safety.

But El Dorado Superior Court Judge Ralph Marks said a bail reduction was warranted because there was no evidence the men acted maliciously or with intent. The charges also did not indicate they posed a danger to the community, the judge said.

Reichel and Linda Parisi, attorney for the elder Smith, said the men were in the area where the fire sparked and called 911 to report flames.

The criminal complaints do not specify how the machine gun and silencer tie into the Caldor Fire, and the DA’s office has not offered an explanation. It declined on Tuesday to release additional statements about the case.

The fire crossed three Northern California counties, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate the resort town of South Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas before it was contained in October.

The next scheduled court date for the Smiths is Feb. 1.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee speaks during a news conference in Hong Kong, Tuesday, July 5, 2...
Associated Press

Hong Kong’s John Lee stresses balance in easing quarantine

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong’s new leader John Lee said Tuesday at his first news conference since taking office that he will work on easing restrictions for travelers while balancing the risks of a coronavirus outbreak overwhelming the health care system. Hong Kong and mainland China are among the few places in the world […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Xiao Jianhua, a Chinese-born Canadian billionaire talks to reporters outside the Internation...
Associated Press

Canada says China bars diplomats from Canadian tycoon trial

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities refused to allow Canadian diplomats to attend the trial of a Chinese-born Canadian tycoon who disappeared from Hong Kong five years ago, Canada’s government said Tuesday. Xiao Jianhua was last seen at a Hong Kong hotel in January 2017 and is believed to have been taken to the mainland by […]
21 hours ago
This image released by Bleecker Street shows Freida Pinto, left, and Zawe Ashton in a scene from "M...
Associated Press

‘Minions’ set box office on fire with $108.5 million debut

Families went bananas for Minions this weekend at the movie theater. ” Minions: The Rise of Gru ” brought in an estimated $108.5 million in ticket sales from 4,391 screens in North America, Universal Pictures said Sunday. By the end of the Monday’s July Fourth holiday, it will likely have earned over $127.9 million. The […]
21 hours ago
Associated Press

Firefighters battle fresh wildfire in Northern California

BRIDGEPORT, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters in Northern California were battling a fresh wildfire that broke out Monday east of Sacramento and forced a number of evacuations. The fire burning in Amador County quickly spread to 959 acres (388 hectares) as of just after 7 p.m. Monday, according to Cal Fire. The fire agency had said […]
21 hours ago
FILE - Huntington Mayor Steve Williams, left, and lawyer Rusty Webb enter the Robert C. Byrd United...
Associated Press

US judge finds for 3 drug distributors in WVa opioid lawsuit

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A federal judge on Monday ruled in favor of three major U.S. drug distributors in a landmark lawsuit that accused them of causing a health crisis by distributing 81 million pills over eight years in one West Virginia county ravaged by opioid addiction. The verdict came nearly a year after closing […]
21 hours ago
Mynor Cardona and Ufemia Tomas, parents of Yenifer Yulisa Cardona Tomás, smile as they talk with h...
Associated Press

A migrant survivor of the trailer: ‘They couldn’t breathe’

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — The advice of a friend to stay near the door of a semi-trailer may have saved Yenifer Yulisa Cardona Tomás from the deadly end that 53 other migrants met when the truck was abandoned last week on the outskirts of San Antonio. Cardona Tomás, a 20-year-old from Guatemala’s capital, said in […]
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Father, son blamed for California wildfire out on lower bail