REDDING, Calif. – A Redding man is facing charges of serial arson for allegedly setting fires in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, said U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott.
38-year-old Eric Michael Smith, is accused of setting four separate wildland fires with an untraceable cigarette lighter or pen torch, according to the Department of Justice Eastern District of California.
The fires were reportedly set during the summer between June 23 and July 29.
One of these fires started near Turntable Bay and required the temporary closure of lanes on Interstate 5, while firefighters put out the flames. Two other fires were set along Gilman Road. The fourth fire was set in the Jones Valley area, according to investigators.
“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.
Smith could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 if convicted.