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New details emerge in east-San Antonio arson cases

Surveillance video and witnesses helped lead investigators to the suspects.

SAN ANTONIO — Court documents are revealing new information about the two people arrested on arson charges related to fires in east San Antonio.

Arrest affidavits make no connection between the two suspects or the two different fires.

In the most recent fire, on May 21 in the 900 block of East Crockett, a San Antonio Fire Department Arson detective wrote that 37-year-old Cruz Rivas was caught on three different surveillance cameras in the area at the time of the fire.

RELATED: Massive fire tears through two-story vacant home in east San Antonio

The affidavit states one witness provided video of Cruz tossing a backpack over a perimeter fence and then disappearing into the property by jumping the fence. The affidavit claims the man jumped the fence at 8:11 a.m., and by 9:09 a.m., smoke can be seen pouring from the two-story wood framed home.

San Antonio Police Officers who work the east side reviewed the video evidence and were able to give arson investigators enough identifying information to arrest Cruz, who they said had been in jail on unrelated charges from May 6 through May 16. Jail records indicate Cruz was released on a $500 bond on a burglary charge.

Even though online court records indicate he is still awaiting trial on previous charges, Cruz is once again eligible for release. Cruz is now being held on a bond of $75,000.

The court document lists a home address for Cruz on Alabama Street that is about one mile from the East Crockett fire, and near numerous other fire scenes that plagued east San Antonio over the past few months.

With regard to another one of those fires, an Arson investigator prepared an affidavit for arrest that states a 34-year-old homeless woman is responsible for a series of small fires at the old Friedrich complex on March 15.

Court records indicate Kathryn Bassignana was arrested and charged with Arson on April 28, almost two months ago.

Bassignana remains jailed on a $40,000 bond. 

The affidavit related to her arrest states in the early morning hours before the Friedrich fire, an arson investigator saw Bassignana in the area, got her identifying information and talked with her about the fires in the area.   Additionally, a witness told investigators he knew Bassignana ignited the fires to illuminate the area in the building to see her way around, and access her belongings.   

Neighbors of the long-abandoned structure have complained for years that the block-long compound is a magnet that attracts people in search of shelter.

With regard to other recent fires in the area, a fire department spokesman would only say that the investigation is ongoing. 

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