Tuesday, December 14, 2021 - 08:00

A father and son charged with starting a massive California wildfire that destroyed many homes and forced tens of thousands of people to flee Lake Tahoe communities earlier this year pleaded not guilty in court.

The El Dorado County prosecutor’s office charged David Scott Smith, 66, and Travis Shane Smith, 32, with reckless arson. The office also charged the son with illegal conversion or manufacture of a machine gun and both men of illegal possession of a firearm silencer.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to all charges, said Emily Idleman, assistant to the chief of investigations in the district attorney’s office.

The men were arrested Wednesday and remain in El Dorado County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail each. A bail reduction hearing is scheduled for Monday.

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. The fire started Aug. 14 and crossed three Northern California counties, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate the resort town of South Lake Tahoe before it was contained in October.

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