Man charged with arson amid raging California fires
Publish Date: May 17, 2014
Man charged with arson amid raging California fires
Scorched hills surround firefighters and a hilltop house after it saved from the Cocos fire on Friday in San Marcos, California. PHOTO/AFP/Getty Images
  • mail
  • img

LOS ANGELES - A 57 year-old man was charged Friday with starting one of the several fires tearing across southern California that has killed at least one person, local police said.

The man, identified as Alberto Serrato, was allegedly seen stoking the flames of a small fire in the town of Oceanside on Wednesday. He pleaded not guilty to arson charges, Lieutenant Val Saadat of the city's police department said.

Serrato, who was arrested after he tried to flee, faces up to seven years in prison if found guilty of starting the fire that destroyed some five square miles of land.

Firefighters late Friday battled blazes caused by nine active fires that have seen thousands of people evacuated over the past three days.

According to a spokesman for the seaside town of Carlsbad, weekend weather conditions are favorable for controlling the fires, with higher humidity and winds at around 5 miles per hour (8 kilometers per hour).

Carlsbad firefighters found a badly burned body in a transient camp engulfed by raging wildfires late Thursday, the only death to have been reported so far.

Meanwhile strong seasonal Santa Ana winds whipped up so-called "firenados" -- columns of rapidly rotating flames -- at the height of the crisis, which saw thousands of firefighters battling the blazes.

One of the worst hit areas was San Marcos, 15 miles inland from Carlsbad, which is north of the far south-western US city of San Diego.

On Friday, the fire there had more than doubled in size overnight to more than 3,000 acres.

But cooling temperatures meant firefighters were more hopeful of bringing that blaze and others under control.

California and other western US states are routinely hit with wildfires during the summer and fall, but blazes have occurred earlier in the year in recent times.

So many blazes in mid-May is rare and coincides with a number of decades-old records for mid-May temperatures having been broken or equaled.


The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Putin snubs Erdogan in Paris as pilot
Russian President Vladimir Putin snubbed a meeting with Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in France on Monday as the body of a pilot killed when Ankara downed one of Moscow's warplanes returned home...
Israeli parliamentarian resigns over sexual harassment claims
A rightwing Israeli politician has resigned from the country's parliament after a series of allegations of sexual harassment, the party announced on Monday....
Turkey to get cash, closer EU ties at migration summit
EU leaders will offer Turkey cash and a boost for its membership bid in exchange for its cooperation with the migrant crisis at a summit Sunday, but officials warned a final deal will involve "difficult" negotiations....
Dutch court blocks bid for Rwandan extraditions
A Dutch court on Friday blocked the extradition of two Rwandan men accused of involvement in the central African country''s 1994 genocide...
Burundi risks genocide, US envoy warns
BURUNDI is at risk of genocide, warns Thomas Perriello, US Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, days after President Barack Obama slapped sanctions...
Refugee crisis tests Sweden
Aneta Moura, who emigrated to Sweden from Greece 43 years ago, says the last ethnic Swede has moved off her street in Malmo's Rosengard neighbourhood and youths with nothing to do hang out on the streets at all hours....
Do you think Uganda is winning the fight against AIDS?
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter