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29 Apr, 2021 13:06

2020 blaze that fueled one of California’s largest wildfires deliberately started to hide murder – police

2020 blaze that fueled one of California’s largest wildfires deliberately started to hide murder – police

Police in California have revealed that the 2020 Markley Fire, which joined a series of others to cause one of the state’s largest wildfires ever, was started to cover up the murder of 32-year-old Priscilla Castro.

The statement was made by authorities after an eight-month investigation into Castro’s disappearance was conducted, following the discovery of her burned body in Northern California’s Solano County. She had been last seen on a date with Victor Serriteno days before the fire was started on August 18, 2020.

“Based on an extensive, eight-month investigation, we believe Serriteno deliberately set the Markley Fire in an attempt to conceal his crime,” Solano County Sheriff Tom Ferrara said in a press briefing.

The Markley Fire ripped through the area, killing two people, before it merged with a number of other fires to form the LNU Lightning Complex blaze that was one of the largest wildfires California has ever witnessed. The other fires are thought to have started from lighting strikes in the state, rather than being equally intentional.

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Authorities arrested Serriteno a month after the fire, charging him with the murder of Castro. He is now facing three more charges, including arson and the murders of both 82-year-old Douglas Mai and 64-year-old Leon Bone, who perished in the blaze, after the two deaths were “considered homicides.” Serriteno has been held without bail since his arrest and will be arraigned on Friday.

When the wildfire was ultimately brought under control by firefighters, it had destroyed 363,000 acres of land and damaged around 1,500 structures, displacing tens of thousands of residents.

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