Crime - Sacto 911

Man who set five Plumas forest fires sentenced to prison

Jeffrey Cameron Schmid
Jeffrey Cameron Schmid Bee file photo

Jeffrey Cameron Schmid was sentenced Friday to 20 years to life in state prison for five separate fires he admitted he set in the Plumas National Forest.

Plumas County Superior Court Judge Ira Kaufman also ordered Schmid to pay $25.2 million in restitution funds for starting a series of fires in July and August that threatened this Plumas County community.

“The victim – that is, the taxpayer – needs to be compensated,” Kaufman said in handing Schmid the maximum sentence and hefty restitution payment.

Schmid, 36, of Quincy, was convicted Sept. 29 after pleading guilty to one count of felony aggravated arson and four counts of arson on Plumas Forest land. The largest of the five fires, the Minerva, grew to 4,310 acres and forced officials to announce voluntary evacuations in downtown Quincy.

All of the fires burned in the steep, rocky terrain surrounding Quincy and near the junction of state Highways 89 and 70. Schmid may have been responsible for more than the five fires he was convicted of setting, Kaufman said.

A Quincy High School graduate and Sierra Pacific Industries employee, Schmid appeared in court in a gray-and-white striped jail jumpsuit. He followed the sentencing proceedings attentively but did not comment on them.

About 15 people attended the sentencing but there was no opportunity for public comment.

After his arrest Aug. 20, Schmid cooperated with authorities and accepted responsibility for his acts early in the investigation, said David Hollister, Plumas County district attorney. Still, Hollister said Friday, the acts were “selfish” and “criminal” and deserved the harsh sentence imposed by the court.

The restitution payment will go to the USDA Forest Service as compensation for the costs of suppressing the fires, Hollister said. Kaufman ordered Schmid to register as an arson offender.

Schmid will remain in the Plumas County jail pending processing by state prison officials to an intake facility. He is expected to first serve a 10-year sentence on the lesser arson charges, then 10 calendar years to life for aggravated arson.

If Schmid is eventually paroled, Kaufman agreed with Hollister’s request that he not be paroled in Plumas County.