A 48-year-old probationer accused of igniting a fire in Lake Elsinore was charged Monday with arson.
Rene Noriega Chavez was arrested Thursday after allegedly setting the blaze in the area of Gunnerson Street and Lakeshore Drive, roughly a half-mile from the north tip of the lake, and is being held at the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta.
According to court records, Chavez has a prior conviction from last year for setting a forest fire.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Stephen Gallon set bail at $250,000 for the defendant, who pleaded not guilty. A felony settlement conference is scheduled Sept. 17 at the Southwest Justice Center in Murrieta.
According to sheriff’s Sgt Sarah Mack, the convicted arsonist allegedly lit brush on fire in a field about 12:30 p.m. Thursday and ran away.
Witnesses called 911 and gave deputies a description of the transient, who was apprehended without incident a half-hour later, less than two blocks from where the fire started, Mack said.
County firefighters knocked down the flames, which burned less than an acre and did not damage homes or other structures.
A possible motive for the alleged offense was not disclosed.
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