A “shaman” accused of starting a wildfire in California claimed the blaze started by mistake while she was boiling bear urine for consumption.
“Alexandra Souverneva, 30, faces up to nine years in prison for allegedly sparking the Fawn Fire, which has destroyed 41 homes and 90 smaller structures and is threatening 2,340 others, officials have said. She has pleaded not guilty,” New York Post stated Monday, Sept. 27.
She is also now accused of igniting other fires across the state, according to reports.
Judge Amy Ryan raised Souverneva’s bail from $100,000 to $150,000, citing the substantial damage caused by the fire.
Souverneva claimed she was hiking and working her way to Canada while the fire in Shasta County raged on Wednesday, Sept. 22, according to records.
She told forest officials she was thirsty and observed a pool of what looked to be bear urine, so she tried to boil the liquid with after lighting a fire, according to Breitbart.
She sipped the liquid and apparently continued on her quest after deciding it was “too wet for the fire to start.”
However, Souverneva later became stuck in the brush due to the fire and had to call for assistance from the fire brigade.
According to Cal Fire officer Matt Alexander, they requested her to empty her pockets and fanny pack, which included CO2 cartridges, a cigarette lighter, and an item “containing a green, leafy substance she admitted to smoking that day.”
On the same day, the Fawn Fire started, workers at a neighboring quarry saw a lady dump two small CO2 cartridges that matched the ones recovered in her luggage, according to court filings.
Souverneva was also suspected of igniting other fires in the vicinity, according to the Shasta County district attorney, UPI reported.
“We are aware that there are possible additional fires here in our county that she may be linked to as well as charges in other fires, statewide,” she said at a news conference. “My office will not hesitate to prosecute (any) person who either intentionally or recklessly starts a fire.”
Souverneva was a graduate of the California Institute of Technology, according to the Daily Mail, and had worked in the Bay Area biotech industry.
According to the outlet, she also worked as a yoga instructor and claimed to be a shaman, a person who claims to have a direct connection with both good and evil spirits.
She enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry but never finished it.
Later, she worked as a medicinal chemistry research associate at the Gilead Sciences in Foster City and Nanosyn in Santa Clara.