Former climate activist charged with arson for California fire that destroyed 40+ homes

Alexandra Souverneva (30) of Palo Alto, “a former forestry student-turned-shaman and yoga teacher” has been charged with “felony arson to wildland with an enhancement because of a declared state of emergency in California” (Daily Mail). The fire, now known as the ‘Fawn Fire’ is located north of Redding.

In the midst of firefighters responding to a fire, a woman (Alexandra) emerged from the brush claiming she was dehydrated and in need of medical attention. She was hiking in a quarry which was an area not open to the public. Workers there reported her trespassing. After talking to the woman further, she was questioned and subsequently arrested over starting the fire, which went on to destroy at least 40 homes.

The fire began before 5PM on Wednesday afternoon, but Souverneva didn’t appear until around 8PM. Earlier in the week, on Wednesday, there were several reports of “a white woman […] trespassing on the property and acting irrationally” (Fox).

Soverneva told authorities that she had found water that contained bear urine. In order to drink it, she tried to filter it with a tea filter. When that didn’t work, she decided to start a fire to boil the water. She said the area was too wet to start a fire, so she continued on her trek. However, she was later found to be in possession of CO2 cartridges and a working lighter. She claimed she was trying to go to Canada (LA Times).

In a statement, Shasta County Sheriff Michael L. Johnson said, “It is difficult to grasp when [a] disaster like this is, apparently, not a natural disaster. But we have a suspect. Deliberate ignition, if proven, makes it harder for us all to grasp as a community, and to deal with what we’re facing.”

Another authority, CAL FIRE officer Matt Alexander wrote: “It is my opinion there is a high possibility she is responsible for the vegetation fire in Shasta Lake City the previous evening. It is my experience that arsonists … will light multiple fires in a short timeframe” (News Thud). The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection directed people to reach out to the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office for inquiries.




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