Eve of Arraignment: Smith Friends Speak Out

On the eve of their arraignment, friends of David and Travis Smith are speaking out. One source, interviewed on the condition of anonymity, stated in the decades they have known the Smith family, they have never seen David nor Shane in any sort of legal trouble. “They are good, hard-working people. David has a son who is a veteran. Travis is a successful electrician. Just good Americans, the both of them” the source said.

Another friend who also chose to remain anonymous expressed anger that David was arrested at his place of business. “Why did they have to embarrass him like that? It’s not like the guy was a flight risk. He’s just going to work everyday. Why didn’t they just ask their attorney to bring them in?” David has worked at the Pepsi bottling plant on Reese Road in Sacramento for over 30 years. He is due to retire next year.

The same source also stated that Travis, who goes by his middle name, Shane, with close friends, “Is one of the hardest working people I know. The guy was running his own electrical business and owned two properties before he was even 30. Just a stand-up guy.” Travis (Shane) Smith was on a call for an electric job at West Park High School in Roseville, CA when he was arrested on Wednesday.

Both friends also state they have been in regular contact with David and Travis (Shane) since the Caldor Fire began. The Smiths did not mention the searches conducted on their properties since August, nor did they mention they were the target of law enforcement’s investigation.

Mark Reichel, attorney for the Smith’s, confirmed with me in a phone call Thursday afternoon that David and Travis (Shane) have been under investigation since a few days after the start of the fire. Mr. Reichel states that the Smiths began receiving phone calls from investigators “a few days after” reporting the fire. The following Friday they hired Mr. Reichel, and the following Sunday, he says, their properties were “raided.”

As he has stated in several interview throughout the day, Mr. Reichel told me neither David nor Travis (Shane) had anything to do with starting the fire. He claims they were simply in the area enjoying the land when they spotted fire and Travis called 911. Mr. Reichel states that Travis had to call emergency services “two or three times because the call kept getting dropped,” but he was able to get to the message through. He also states the Smiths then located campers they had seen earlier to warn them of the approaching fire, and that these people were wildland camping and not in a proper campground.

At the time of our interview, roughly 24 hours since his clients arrest, Mr. Reichel stated he had “no idea what is going on” and that he had not received any information from the District Attorney nor Sheriff. “While strange,” he said, “it’s not illegal. They have 48 hours to charge or let them go.”

Moments before this writing, Luke Cleary of ABC10 broke the story that the El Dorado County District Attorney officially filed charges against the Smiths for reckless arson and allegedly starting the Caldor Fire. You can follow Luke on Twitter at @LukeCleary.

I also asked Mr. Reichel about the social media rumor mill and if there as anything he felt needed cleared up. He stated that the Sacramento Bee ran a story quoting a source as saying investigators believe the Caldor Fire started due to the Smiths illegally discharging weapons, and others began attributing the quote to Mr. Reichel. He stated, “I have no idea why people are saying that source was me. I have no idea what the theory is. No idea what the prosecution theory is at all.” I asked him if he had any concerns for his clients safety given the response on social media. “Yes, I absolutely do” he said. “The mob is out with the pitchforks.”

Before wrapping up my interviews with the Smith family friends, I asked if there was anything else they wanted to say about the investigation. Aside from their glowing descriptions of David and Travis (Shane), one friend expressed frustration at the firefighting response. “How long was it before the fire fighters got there? Why can’t we know that? They go after my friends and put all this garbage out there about them, but they can’t tell us how long it took firefighters to get there after they got the call? Something just isn’t right here.”

At the time of this writing, the El Dorado County District Attorney’s office and the Sheriff’s office have not responded to requests for comment.

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8 thoughts on “Eve of Arraignment: Smith Friends Speak Out

  1. That last line is BS. Fire responded right away with a full dispatch but had trouble locating, then accessing the fire. There was no intentional delay.

    • Greenwood Joe – as a local – right in the middle of the fire we know the truth. USFS expressly did not engage the fire. They parked fire crews and trucks on the road. When locals asked these crews whey they were not engaging the fire they said they were told to wait till the fire gets to the road. When CalFire was contacted they said USFS told them not to respond. This was on Saturday, Sunday and Monday… Many many people made calls themselves to USFS and CalFire and many others spoke to USFS and CalFire in person getting these same responses.

      • CAL FIRE LOCAL— 1ST OF ALL THE USFS AND CALFIRE ARE 2 DIFFERT AGENTCYS. CAL FIRE WAS DISPETCHED AND WERE ON THE FIRE IMMEDIATLY I HAVE A SCANNER ITS ON 24/7 AT 7PMISH ON SATURDAY AUG 14 A TONE OUT WAS SENT FOR A FIRE ON CALDOR RD AMD GRIZZLY FLAT RD. A LITTLE TIME LATER (MINUTES NOT HOU\RS) FIRE PERSONAL CAME BACK SAYING THERE WAS NO FIRE ON CALDOR. THE FIRE WAS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF CANYON. IMMEDIATLY FIRE PERSONAL WERE DISPATHCHED TO OMO RANCH NOTE THIS IS CAL FIRE DISPATCH NOT USFS I GOT ON THE FIRE SERVICE WEB PAGE AT THIS POINT TO FIND OUT MORE BECAUSE I LIVE A FEW MILES FROM HERE IN MT. AUKUM.AT THAT POINT MR. SPEICT WHO LIVES CLOSE POSTED HIS VIDEO FROM BERRYS AND HIS POST SAID THAT HE ;PASSED CALFIRE PERSONAL GOING IN TO THE FIRE ON HIS WAY OUT…. SO IM SORRY BUT YOUR INFO IS NOT TRUE…. BUT NEITHER IS JERICOS, RENEES OR JOE BIDENS ————COME ON REALLY JOE BIDEN POSTED THAT—- BULLSHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • REALLY BULLSHIT THIS ISNT FROM JOE BIDEN THIS IS JUST ANOTHER MEDIA CRAP, AND JERICO YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED YOUR NO BETTER THEN ALL THE OTHER NEWS PEOPLE . FAKE NEWS! FAKE NEWS

  2. This is all super sad!! My daughters in laws lost there home, it is sad that such a horrible thing happened but these guys didn’t murder anyone a mistake was made. I pray for everyone involved in this horrible situation!!

  3. Thanks for the insight and context JI, haven’t seen much in the news other than the splash of their arrests. Arson investigations seem pretty sophisticated these days and it would be nice to understand just what did start the Caldor. Seems we may learn more in the near future with this case.

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