Redding man arrested for setting fires on Shasta-Trinity Forest land
A Redding man has been charged with lighting fires on Shasta-Trinity National Forest land in Shasta County, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced Wednesday.
The man, Eric Michael Smith, 38, is accused of setting four fires between June 23 and July 29 this year, according to a news release from Scott's office.
Prosecutors allege Smith used a "virtually untraceable" cigarette lighter or pen torch to ignite the fires.
One of the fires started near Turntable Bay and led to officials closing lanes on Interstate 5. Two other fires started along Gilman Road, near the burn area of the 2018 Hirz Fire. The fourth fire started in the Jones Valley area.
If convicted, Smith would face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, although the court has discretion for sentencing.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Forest Service and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection with help from the Shasta County Sheriff's Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Samuel Stefanki is prosecuting the case.
Matt Brannon covers politics, the criminal justice system and breaking news for the Record Searchlight.