As Mop-Up Continues, No Charges Filed Against Teen Arrested Amid Wildfires

Prosecutors declined to file charges Tuesday against a 19-year-old man who was arrested on suspicion of arson in Escondido as wildfires raged in San Diego County last week.

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Isaiah Silva, 17, of Escondido was arrested along with one other person on Thursday, May 15, 2014. No charges were filed against him, the DA’s office said several days later. (Credit: Escondido Police Department)

Isaiah Silva had been due in court Tuesday but the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office announced prosecutors chose not to file criminal charges.

“There is not sufficient evidence to suggest he started a fire,” the DA’s office stated in a news release.

A 17-year-old had also been taken into custody along with Silva, but because of state laws governing juvenile court proceedings, the DA’s office could not provide an update on that case.

Witnesses had reported two people seen starting small fires in Escondido on Thursday evening, and police said they took two teens into custody on suspicion of arson-related charges. The teens matched witnesses’ descriptions, according to police.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis said Friday that there was no evidence to connect them, or another man who was charged with arson, to much larger fires that burned across the county last week, scorching more than 41 square miles.

Alberto Serrato was charged with arson in connection with the 105-acre River Fire in Oceanside after witnesses saw him allegedly adding brush to the fire as it burned in the San Luis Rey riverbed, Dumanis announced Friday. Serrato, 57, pleaded not guilty, KPBS reported.

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A fire tornado was captured burning near homes in the San Marcos on May 15, 2014. (Credit: KSWB)

Meanwhile, cooler weather was helping firefighters’ efforts to complete containment lines and finish mop-up operations on Tuesday.

A low-pressure system moving into Southern California was expected to bring isolated showers, mainly in the mountains, and a slight chance of thunderstorms later in the week, according to the San Diego office of the National Weather Service. San Diego County had seen record high temperatures in several areas while the fires burned, the weather service reported.

The 1,995-acre Cocos Fire was 93 percent contained Tuesday, according to Cal Fire. More than 500 personnel were still working on the fire, which broke out Wednesday afternoon and prompted the evacuation of thousands of homes in the San Marcos and Escondido area.

All evacuations were lifted on Sunday morning, five days after the Bernardo Fire ignited near Rancho Bernardo, marking the beginning of a series of infernos amid a spring heat wave and unseasonable Santa Ana winds.

Operations on Camp Pendleton had returned to normal Monday afternoon, after nearly 18 percent of the base was burned in multiple fires, according to a news release on the base’s Facebook page.

Two fires — the 15,000-acre Las Pulgas Fire and the 1,500-acre San Mateo Fire — were still burning as of Monday afternoon.

Fire crews had worked over the weekend to get those massive blazes under control, said Brig. Gen. John Bullard, commanding general of the base.

“Their execution was well planned and flawless,” Bullard said.

Eleven single family homes and 25 structures at a 118-year-old spiritualist association property were burned in the Cocos Fire. according to a preliminary assessment from San Diego County.

One home was burned in San Marcos.

In Carlsbad, where the Poinsettia Fire raged across 600 acres, eight single-family homes and an 18-unit apartment building were destroyed. One person was found dead in a homeless encampment amid the burned area there.

In the Carlsbad fire and elsewhere, multiple additional homes and structures were damaged.