Forestry student-turned-shaman, 30, faces nine years in jail for ‘starting California’s Fawn Fire’ that has burned 8,500 acres and destroyed 41 homes: DA suspects she could be ‘serial arsonist’
- Alexandra Souverneva, 30, of Palo Alto, has been charged with felony arson to wildland and is suspected of starting the Fawn fire – she was seen to be carrying CO2 canisters and a cigarette lighter
- Workers saw her acting strangely and trespassing in Shasta County where the Fawn Fire sparked Wednesday
- Souverneva was seen walking out of brush, telling firefighters she was dehydrated
- The 30-year-old was arrested Friday and booked into jail after being taken for evaluation and treatment
- Evacuations have been ordered as the Fawn Fire continues to rage, threatening about 2,000 structures
- It has so far scorched more than 13 square miles (34 square kilometers) of heavy timber in rugged terrain
A former forestry student-turned-shaman and yoga teacher has been charged with starting a huge California wildfire that has destroyed 41 homes – and was being investigated in connection with other fires – after claiming the blaze was triggered accidentally while she tried to boil bear urine so she could drink it.
Alexandra Souverneva, of Palo Alto, was charged Friday with felony arson to wildland with an enhancement because of a declared state of emergency in California, Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett said. The 8,500 acre blaze the 30 year-old is accused of starting has wrecked 41 homes, and 90 other structures.
Souverneva pleaded not guilty but could face up to nine years in state prison if convicted. She is also suspected of starting additional fires in Shasta County and throughout the state, Bridgett said. It wasn’t immediately known if she has an attorney who could speak on her behalf.
During questioning by investigators, Souverneva, who previously worked as a scientist, but whose most recent job was as an SAT tutor, claimed that she had been thirsty whilst out hiking and found a puddle in a dry creek bed which contained bear urine.
She then claims she attempted to filter the water using a tea bag but when that failed tried to start a fire to boil the water. Souverneva said that it was too wet to start a fire so she drank the water and continued walking.
The Fawn Fire has charred more than 13 square miles of heavy timber in the latest destructive blaze to send Californians fleeing this year. As of Monday morning, the fire was 45 per cent contained. CAL FIRE reported on Sunday night that three firefighters were injured while battling the inferno.
Souverneva is known to be a graduate of the California Institute of Technology and former Bay Area biotech employee.
She has also worked as a yoga teacher and describes herself as a shaman – a person who claims to have a direct connection with the world’s good and evil spirits.