A woman accused of starting the Fawn Fire in Northern California said she was trying to boil drinking water that she thought was tainted with bear urine, 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, KTLA sister station KRON in San Francisco reports.
Documents reveal when a Cal Fire official stopped Souverneva, he requested she be evaluated for possible dehydration. When asked to empty her pockets, Cal Fire found she was carrying a lighter, the document says, and she admitted to smoking earlier that day.
The woman told the Cal Fire official she was on a hike to Canada and became thirsty. She stumbled upon a puddle in a dry creek bed and had stopped to boil the water, which she believed was tainted with bear urine, according to the document.
“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,” the criminal complaint states.
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,” the Redding Record Searchlight reported.
Souverneva is being held on a $150,000 bail and her next court date is scheduled for Oct. 5.
The Fawn Fire, which began Sept. 22, has burned 8,595 acres and was 75% contained as of Wednesday morning, according to Cal Fire. A total of 185 structures have been destroyed and 26 others damaged. Three injuries were reported.