REDDING (CBS13) – A Redding man is being charged with serial arson for allegedly setting fire to lands within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced on Wednesday.
Eric Michael Smith, 38, is accused of setting four separate wildland fires with an untraceable cigarette lighter or pen torch, the Department of Justice Eastern District of California said in a news release.
Smith faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if convicted.
“With the apprehension of this arsonist who was responsible for setting multiple fires, our officers protected our national forests from critical environmental and wildlife habitat loss, reducing the danger to our local communities, including firefighters on the frontline, especially in a year dominated by large wildfires during a pandemic,” said Don Hoang, Special Agent in Charge, Forest Service Law Enforcement and Investigations, Pacific Southwest Region.
The fires were reportedly set during the summer between June 23 and July 29.
One fire was set near Turntable Bay and caused road closures along Interstate 5 and two others were set along Gilman Road, officials said. Smith allegedly set the fourth fire in the Jones Valley area.