SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) -The Palo Alto woman accused of starting the Fawn Fire in Shasta County was allegedly trying to boil drinking water, according to a criminal complaint from the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office.
Alexandra Souverneva, 30, was arraigned in court Friday where she pleaded not guilty to a felony arson charge.
Documents reveal a Cal Fire official stopped Souverneva after spotting her carrying a lighter in her pocket when the fire started on Wednesday, September 22.
When approached by the official, she said she was on a hike to Canada and had stopped to boil water she believed contained bear urine.
“She said the water contained bear urine and tried to filter the water with a tea bag. She said that didn’t work so she attempted to make a fire to boil the water. She stated it was too wet for the fire to start,” according to the court document.
She drank the water anyway and continued walking uphill, according to the court document.
During her court appearance on Friday, an attorney made statements about Souverneva’s actions being related to a mental health crisis “or something to do with drug abuse,” according to reports in the Redding Record Searchlight.
Souverneva is being held on a $150,000 bail and her next court date is scheduled for Tuesday, October 5th.
Souverneva is a graduate of Palo Alto High School and the California Institute of Technology.
The Fawn Fire began September 22 and has burned 8,577 acres and is 65% contained, according to Cal Fire.
A total of 185 structures have been destroyed, and 66 structures have been damaged.