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Woman Allegedly Sparked Wildfire Trying to Boil Water

Alexandra Souverneva hit with multiple charges in California
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 28, 2021 1:30 AM CDT
Updated Sep 28, 2021 5:23 AM CDT
Woman Allegedly Sparked Wildfire Trying to Boil Water
Alexandra Souverneva's mug shot.   (Booking photo)

(Newser) – The woman who was arrested after walking out of a Northern California wildfire near the fire line has now been charged with arson. Authorities say Alexandra Souverneva, 30, was trying to hike to Canada when, she told them, she found a puddle of water to drink but wanted to sterilize it because it had bear urine in it. When straining it through a tea bag didn't work, she allegedly told authorities, she tried to make a fire so she could boil it, CNN reports. She claimed conditions were too wet to spark a fire and that she drank the water anyway. The Fawn Fire, which started Sept. 22, has burned through more than 8,500 acres and is only 50% contained.

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Souverneva, of Palo Alto, is also a suspect in a second Shasta County fire, which started the day prior about five miles away, the Mercury News reports. "It is my opinion there is a high possibility she is responsible for the vegetation fire in Shasta Lake City the previous evening," the Cal Fire official who arrested Souverneva says in a report to the DA. The DA says possible links to other fires are also being investigated. Souverneva, who pleaded not guilty, reportedly graduated from the prestigious California Institute of Technology, and has worked as a scientist studying medicinal chemistry at the State University of New York and as a research associate at biotech companies Gilead Sciences and Nanosyn. But her current occupation is listed on LinkedIn as "shaman," CBS Sacramento reports. (Read more California wildfires stories.)

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