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 5 PM on Wednesday afternoon, but Souverneva didn’t appear until around 8 PM. 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.
Another story coming from California is especially pertinent to today’s border crisis. An undocumented teen from Mexico was recently detained by border patrol agents due to suspicions that he started fires in California.
On September 24, U.S. Customs and Border Protection released a statement regarding the apprehension of an illegal immigrant who is believed to have started several fires. The fire has now been extinguished and the individual’s case will be handled by CBP and the Bureau of Land Management.
El Centro Station Dispatch notified fire departments of a fire in the Jacumba Wilderness Region around 2:15. Authorities arrived on the scene around 2:50, where they found the individual in the area and in the process of igniting another fire (CBP). After apprehending him, they attempted to put out the fire, but made little progress.
The Station contacted the Bureau of Land Management, who sent over an engine, a hand crew, and a helicopter in addition to the fixed-wing aircraft. By the next morning, the fire had been completely extinguished.
The individual who was detained is an 18-year old Mexican national who had entered the U.S. illegally. He is believed to have started several of the fires in that area, but was charged with entering the U.S. illegally. He was moved to the El Centro Sector Processing Center, where he was questioned by BLM officials and planned to investigate the fires soon.
Chief Patrol Agent Gregory K. Bovino released a statement saying, “Our environment and natural places are national interests that all Americans hold dear. I would like to thank our partners at the Bureau of Land Management as they work tirelessly to conserve and protect the fragile Jacumba Mountains Wilderness area; the location where this undocumented migrant purposefully set fire to endangered Big Horn Sheep habitat.”