A court date has been set wo men who have been accused of starting the destructive Caldor Fire in 2021.
Travis Smith, of Folsom, and his father David, of Somerset, made an appearance in a Placerville courtroom last week in preparation for an upcoming evidentiary hearing.
El Dorado County Superior Court Judge Vicki Ashworth has now set the new court date for Aug. 22. The hearing is estimated to carry over two-days and is being described as a “mini-trial” to establish probably cause in the ongoing case.
The father and son face felony reckless arson charges as well as firearms charges in El Dorado County. Shane Smith is also facing charges related to possession of a machine gun.
The purpose of the Aug. 22 hearing is to determine if the suspects will be required to, “answer for the charges,” a necessary court system step in preparation of and before holding a jury trial.
Both men have both plead not guilty to the charges and have declined media interviews as reported by their defense attorney Mark Reichel. Both men remain free on bond awaiting trial. Back in December of 2021, the initial bail had been set at $1 million each but were lowered to $25,000 for David and $50,000 for Travis in late December 2021.
The Caldor Fire began near the community of Grizzly Flats back on Aug. 14, 2021.
It burned some 1,000 buildings, destroying much of Grizzly Flats. In the following weeks, it spread uphill. Growing to almost 350 square miles. At least three people suffered great bodily injury, a according to the charges.
Two weeks after the fire began, the fire made an aggressive push from Echo Summit across Christmas Valley and nearly reached the Nevada state line, forcing thousands of residents to evacuation for days and even weeks during its destructive run across multiple counties.
Prosecutors have been tight lipped as to how exactly they believe the suspects sparked the fire.
According to court documents released by the district attorney at the time of their arrest, the charges allege that the pair “unlawfully and recklessly set fire to and burn and cause to be burned a structure, forest land, or personal property and did cause great bodily injury.”
Details on the charges and accusations are expected to be presented the Aug. 22 hearing.