River Fire arson trial begins for ex-con - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

River Fire arson trial begins for ex-con

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VISTA (CNS) - Testimony got underway Monday in the trial of an ex-con accused of throwing brush on a smoldering fire in the San Luis Rey riverbed during a series of wind-fueled blazes in San Diego County in May, causing the flames to kick up again.

Alberto Serrato, 57, is charged with arson during a state of emergency. He faces 13 years in prison if convicted.

Oceanside police Lt. Val Sadaat allegedthat Serrato was 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. on May 14, the lieutenant 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 105-acre blaze, one of more than a half-dozen fires that were burning in San Diego County at the time amid a Red Flag alert posted due to heat, winds and low humidity.

The trial is expected to take about three days in the courtroom of Vista Judge William Dato.

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