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Public Safety

Man Pleads Not Guilty To Sparking 105-Acre Oceanside Fire

A man arrested in connection with a fire that blackened about 105 acres in an Oceanside riverbed on Wednesday pleaded not guilty Friday to 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. The fire started about 1 p.m.

Serrato tried to run but didn't get far and was arrested about 3:15 p.m., Sadaat said. Serrato was booked into jail about 4:35 p.m. Wednesday, according to the sheriff's jail website, but authorities did not make his arrest public until Friday.

The blaze, dubbed the River fire, erupted east of College Boulevard and was fully contained as of Friday morning, Cal Fire reported.

The fire initially prompted police to evacuate homes on Andrew Jackson Street and surrounding roads, but the evacuations were lifted Thursday.

No one was injured and no structures were damaged or destroyed in the fire.

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

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