VISTA (CNS) - A man arrested in connection with a fire that blackened about 105 acres in an Oceanside riverbed on Wednesday pleaded not guilty Friday 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.