Woman Boiling Bear Urine To Drink Starts California Wildfire

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[YouTube][CBS Sacramento]

Damir Mujezinovic

The Fawn fire north of Redding, California sparked on September 22 but exploded a day after amid windy conditions. So far, the fire has consumed nearly 9,000 acres, destroying 144 homes and forcing thousands to evacuate from the area.

At one point, the fire threatened more than 9,000 structures, but heroic efforts by local agencies combined with the light rain that fell on Monday appear to have slowed it down.

Who started the fire? According to investigators, 30-year-old Palo Alto resident Alexandra Souverneva.

Read more below.

Souverneva Goes Hiking

According to a narrative written by a Cal Fire officer, Souverneva went hiking on September 22. She apparently wanted to hike to Canada, but things didn't go exactly as planned.

Souverneva arrived to the Mountain Gate community in Northern California, where quarry employees told her she has no right to be there, as reported by CNN.

Souverneva kept walking, but became thirsty. She found a puddle of water in a dry creek bed, but apparently concluded that the water was not safe to drink and tried to filter it.

Here's what happened next.

Bear Urine

Shutterstock | 3054746

Souverneva believed the water was contaminated with bear urine, so she first tried to filter it with a tea bag. When that did nothing, she tried to start a fire.

According to the officer's narrative, Souverneva thought she could boil the water to clean it of bear urine.

"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. She said she drank the water anyway and then continued walking uphill from the creek bed."

Charges Against Souverneva

According to District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett, Souverneva now faces a felony arson charge with an enhancement of committing arson during a state of emergency, and she could face additional charges.

"We are aware that there are possible additional fires here in our county that she may be linked to as well as other charges in other fires, statewide. My office will not hesitate to prosecute (any) person who either intentionally or recklessly starts a fire," Bridgett said.

Souverneva has been appointed a public defender and pleaded not guilty.

Who Is Alexandra Souverneva?

Souverneva attended the California Institute of Technology and worked for several pharmaceutical companies, before becoming an online yoga teacher, according to NBC News.

An instructor who taught Souverneva at Avalon Yoga International, described her as a brilliant student, noting that she attended the California Institute of Technology and worked in the pharmaceutical industry before turning against "big money-grubbing corporations."

"I thought she was an idealistic kid. She was into conservation and forests," said Steve Farmer, the chief executive of Avalon.

"She would have been the last person I would have thought to get involved in something like this," he added.

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