(Trends Wide) — A woman purporting to hike to Canada is facing charges related to the Fawn fire, which authorities say started while trying to boil drinking water, according to a criminal complaint from the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office in California.
Alexandra Souverneva, 30, is facing one charge of arson crime, compounded by committing arson during a state of emergency, said prosecutor Stephanie Bridgett. Souverneva could face a maximum of nine years in state prison, although she could face further charges as the fire continues to burn and the investigation is ongoing, according to authorities.
The Fawn fire started on Sept. 22 and was only 50% contained as of Monday, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The fire has burned more than 3,440 hectares.
“We are aware that there are additional potential fires here in our county that she could be related to, as well as other charges for other fires across the state,” Bridgett said at a news conference Friday. “My office will not hesitate to prosecute (anyone) who intentionally or recklessly starts a fire.”
Souverneva has pleaded not guilty, according to authorities.
The district attorney’s office says a public defender was appointed to him at his court appearance on Friday. The county public defender’s office, for its part, said it does not comment on any pending cases.
Souverneva had gone on a field trip to Canada on Sept. 22 and was seen in the Northern California community of Mountain Gate, according to an account written by a wildland fire agency official. The quarry employees told him he couldn’t be on the property, but he kept walking.
The officer maintains that Souverneva became thirsty and found a puddle of water in a dry stream bed, but the water allegedly contained bear urine, so she tried to filter the water with a tea bag.
“He said that didn’t work so he tried to make a fire to boil the water. He claimed it was too wet for the fire to start. He said he drank the water anyway and then continued walking uphill from the creek bed.” said the complaint.
Souverneva got caught in the brush and called firefighters, according to the complaint. The fire department evaluated her for dehydration and was later questioned by authorities. That was when he allegedly told them that he had tried to light a fire. Souverneva was detained, according to the complaint.
Souverneva was found with CO2 cartridges, a lighter and a “white object containing a green leafy substance,” according to the complaint.
Souverneva’s bail is US $ 150,000 and she will appear in court on October 5.