San Francisco, CA

Experts say San Francisco man possibly started a fatal wildfire in 2020 to cover up a murder

Jano le Roux

Authorities say a Bay Area man is covering up a murder that sparked the 2020 Markley Fire in Solano County, which killed two people and later became part of the explosive LNU Lightning Complex.

Wildfires will consume anything in their way when they torch millions of acres of land at breakneck rates. These rolling flames can reach speeds of up to 14 miles per hour, or around four minutes per mile, and can surround the average person in minutes.
Massive wildfire in San Francisco during the 2020 pandemic.Shutterstock

The wildfire season in the United States in 2020, which runs from June to September, was especially destructive. This summer was the hottest on earth, with California seeing drought conditions thru September. Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has stymied prevention measures including homeowner aid services and regulated fires, owing to fears over social isolation and respiratory hazards. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection had responded to almost twice as many fires by the end of June as it had in the previous 2020 season.
San Francisco featuring an orange skyline because of the wildfire in 2020.Shutterstock

Wildfire destruction in the United States has risen dramatically over the past two decades. Since 2000, an average of 72,400 wildfires have burned an average of 7 million acres in the United States per year, more than double the amount of acres burned in the 1990s. The worst wildfire season in US history ravaged more than 10 million acres of land in 2015.

Wildfire risk is predicted to escalate when more of the United States becomes hotter and drier as a result of climate change. Simultaneously, as the United States’ population grows and more inhabitants migrate into agricultural and wilderness areas, more dwellings and other buildings are expected to be placed in jeopardy. That’s why it’s crucial to know how wildfires began, how to put them out, and what to do if one breaks out.

Any flammable substance around a burn, such as branches, grasses, brush, and even houses, is considered fuel. The greater the fuel load in an environment, the more violent the fire would be. California remains the state most vulnerable to wildfires, having lost 259,148 acres to 8,194 wildfires in 2019.

A fire requires oxygen to burn, which is provided by air. The strong, dry Santa Ana winds, which can bring a spark for miles, exacerbate California wildfires.

Heat sources aid in the ignition of the blaze by increasing the temperature of the gasoline. Lightning, campfires, tobacco, and even the sun will all generate enough heat to start a wildfire.
Emergency workers battling to cope with the high demands of the wildfires.Shutterstock

Heat, drought, and periodic thunderstorms establish ideal conditions for violent infernos in the western states. Any of the strongest conflagrations occur in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and California. Wildfires can be seen in almost any country and in most of the 50 states.

The fire was determined to be arson after an eight-month inquiry by the Solano County Sheriff’s Office and Cal Fire. Douglas Mai, 82, and Leon Bone, 64, who died in their homes in unincorporated Solano County due to a burn, will now be charged as homicides, according to authorities.

After the charred body of Priscilla Castro was found in the Stebbins-Cold Canyon field where the Markley Fire began on Aug. 18, Vacaville police detained Victor Serriteno, 29. Castro, 32, went to Vacaville on Aug. 16 to visit Serriteno, according to officials. After that supposed encounter, Castro was never heard from again.

Serriteno is thought to have set the fire on purpose “in an attempt to conceal his crime,” according to the sheriff’s office.
Emergency workers looking for survivors during the wildfire.Shutterstock

According to county jail reports, Serriteno was arrested on Wednesday on a variety of offenses, including two counts of homicide, one count of arson on an occupied house, and one count of committing arson during a state of emergency.

The sheriff’s office issued a statement saying, “Our continued condolences go out to the families affected by these crimes, and we hope that this arrest can provide some measure of solace.”

Serriteno will appear in court on Friday.

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