A woman who was charged with arson in connection to a California wildfire that has burned 10,000 acres said she was boiling water that had bear urine in it, officials say

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A woman who was charged with arson in connection to a California wildfire that has burned 10,000 acres said she was boiling water that had bear urine in it, officials say
Flames consume a house near Old Oregon Trail as the Fawn Fire burns about 10 miles north of Redding in Shasta County, Calif., on Thursday, Sep. 23, 2021.
Flames consume a house near Old Oregon Trail as the Fawn Fire burns about 10 miles north of Redding in Shasta County, Calif., on Thursday, Sep. 23, 2021. Ethan Swope/Associated Press
  • The Fawn Fire started Wednesday and has burned nearly 10,000 acres in Northern California.

  • A woman found near its starting point with a lighter has been charged with felony arson.

  • Alexandra Souverneva allegedly told authorities she was boiling water to drink that had bear urine in it.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

A woman has been arrested and charged with felony arson in connection to a wildfire in Northern California that has burned about 9,850 acres, destroying homes and prompting mandatory evacuations, officials said Friday.

The Fawn Fire started Wednesday afternoon in Shasta County and quickly spread. The woman, Alexandra Souverneva, 30, was arrested on Thursday, Cal Fire said in a press release.

According to a criminal complaint obtained by KPIX, Souverneva told authorities she was trying to boil water to drink while attempting to hike to Canada.

On Wednesday, several civilians contacted police to say a woman was in the area trespassing and acting "irrationally." Later that evening, Cal Fire encountered Souverneva when she walked out of the brush near where the fire had started. She approached firefighters and said she was dehydrated and in need of medical attention, the press release said.

She had a lighter in her pocket, Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie A. Bridgett said during a Friday press conference. Souverneva was arrested at the scene and the DA said a preliminary investigation determined arson was the cause of the fire.

Souverneva said she was hiking to Canada when she got thirsty. She allegedly found a puddle of water with bear urine in it, so she tried to filter it with a teabag, the criminal complaint said.

"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," the complaint read, according to CNN.

Officials now believe Souverneva could be connected to several other fires in the county and state and are investigating.

"We are aware that there are possible additional fires here in our county that she may be linked to," Bridgett said.

Souverneva faces a maximum penalty of nine years in state prison, according to Bridgett. She also advised people to be extra cautious during the state's drought and dry weather conditions.

"My office will not hesitate to prosecute any person who either intentionally or recklessly starts a fire," she said.

As of Monday night, the Fawn Fire was 60% contained, the Shasta County Sheriff's Office said.

KPIX reported that California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Shasta County, on Monday.

Wildfires have burned an estimated total of nearly 2 million acres in California this year.

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