California’s ‘Fawn Fire’ Allegedly Started By Student-Turned-Shaman Claiming She Boiled Bear Urine To Drink
Alexandra Souverneva is charged with felony arson to wildland. Authorities suspect she started other fires, too.
A forestry student allegedly started the blaze, which means it will likely get added to the list of eco-terrorism events.
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.
Souverneva was discovered when she got trapped in the brush amid the inferno and had to call the fire department to help her. Authorities found a great deal of potential evidence.
She was asked to empty her pockets and fanny pack — which had CO2 cartridges, a cigarette lighter and an item “containing a green, leafy substance she admitted to smoking that day,” according to Cal Fire officer Matt Alexander.
Workers at a nearby quarry reported seeing a woman toss two small CO2 cartridges that matched the ones found in her bag on the same day the Fawn Fire ignited, Alexander said in court documents.
On her LinkedIn, Souverneva lists “shaman” as her current occupation and indicates that she was a doctoral student at SUNY’s New York College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry.
An attorney for Souverneva told her initial court hearing that she’d made statements to law enforcement that indicated a possible mental health crisis “or something to do with drug abuse.”
“She is also under suspicion for starting other fires,” said the attorney, who was not identified by the paper.
Alexander said in a report that “there is a high possibility she is responsible” for a fire the previous evening, too.
“It is my experience that arsonists … will light multiple fires in a short timeframe,” Alexander said, according to the paper.
Fortunately for the local residents, the Fire Department has had a break in the weather and they are making progress on containment.
Lighter winds and cooler temperatures slowed the Fawn Fire as it moves toward the shores of California’s largest man-made lake and away from populated areas north of the city of Redding, allowing crews to increase containment to 35%, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said in a statement.
The fire at one point threatened 9,000 buildings, but the number dropped to 2,340 on Sunday.
Light rain was in the forecast for Monday. Fire officials said crews will begin taking advantage of the calmer weather to conduct back burns near the lake to expand the control lines, the Record Searchlight reported.
“We’re going to hold it. It’s going to be done this week,” Bret Gouvea, chief of CalFire’s Shasta-Trinity unit, said at a community meeting Saturday night.
When the media pounces on wildfires in California, Australia, or elsewhere as proof of global warming, it would be worthwhile knowing exactly how many of those fires began as arson.DONATE
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