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Alleged Arson Pleads Not Guilty to Starting River Fire in Oceanside

Alberto Serrato, 57 faces seven years in prison if convicted of starting the River Fire in Oceanside, which burned through 105 acres.

Patch file photo
Patch file photo

A man arrested in connection with a fire that blackened about 105 acres in an Oceanside riverbed on Wednesday pleaded not guilty today a felony arson charge.

Alberto Serrato, 57, had his bail increased from $75,000 to $250,000. He faces seven years in prison if convicted.

Oceanside police Lt. Val Sadaat said Serrato was allegedly spotted using something to fan the flames of the fire in the bed of the San Luis Rey River. Serrato tried to run but didn't get far and was arrested about 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, Sadaat said.

The blaze -- dubbed the River Fire -- erupted east of College Boulevard in the early afternoon and was contained about 7:45 p.m. Authorities said one structure was damaged in the fire, one of more than a half-dozen that were burning in San Diego County at the time amid a Red Flag alert posted due to heat, winds and low humidities.

Serrato will be back in court May 28 for a readiness conference and June 2 for a preliminary hearing.

Read updates on the San Diego County Wildfires here: Friday San Diego County Firestorm Coverage.

—City News Service


David Terrell May 18, 2014 at 04:59 PM
Good for Oceanside Fire in putting out this fire in a few hours. I saw OFD trucks all over the other County fires on the news coverage. Oceanside Police caught the alleged perp in minutes. These guys are heroes: they saved Oceanside and they're saving the rest of the County. Too bad Kern and Felien want to fire our heroes and outsource their jobs. How about firing Kern and Felien?
Donald Snyder May 18, 2014 at 09:43 PM
They don't want to fire anyone. They want to hire good people at a fair price. That's what you're supposed to do as a city councilman. They are trying to save Oceanside money. Or we could have Ester Sanchez close the San Luis Rey Resource center due to budget cuts, have a couple of gang shootings and then wonder why we don't have any place for the young children to go after school. Wait, sorry. She already did that.

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