A Palo Alto woman, 30, who allegedly started the Fawn Fire that is taking on the north of Redding and displaced over 2, 500 people was arrested on Thursday.
The suspect, identified as Alexandra Souverneva, is said to be a Caltech graduate with chemistry and biology degrees.
She was booked at the Shasta County Jail over “arson to wildland” allegations, which can further enhance upon conviction as the wildfire puts California under a state of emergency.
New information on the suspect was released by the Shasta County District Attorney’s Office on Friday afternoon. It said at the time of the arrest, the woman had a working lighter in her pocket.
“Cal Fire has conducted a preliminary investigation and already made the determination that the fire was in fact arson,” District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett told a press conference. “We received the report yesterday and today we announced that we have filed felony arson charges against her, not only for arson but also for committing an arson during a state of emergency. The maximum penalty she currently faces is nine years in prison.”
Probe regarding the case continues, Bridgett said, and more charges can be filed according to the end-result. “We are aware there are possible additional fires here in our county that she may be linked to as well as other charges in other fires statewide,” Bridgett said. “That is still an ongoing investigation.”
The said fire started Wednesday and in less than 24 hours, it has spread to 3, 500 acres.
The breezy situation on Thursday afternoon caused the Fawn Fire to explode and has threatened the Mountain Gate neighborhood.
According to Cal Fire, the blaze was first reported on Wednesday afternoon at 4:45 in a far canyon in a space near the J.F. Shea and Mountain Gate quarries. It added that a woman was spotted by the quarry employees to have trespassed and was “acting irrationally” before the fire broke out.
The woman emerged from the brush in the evening of the same day and went to firefighters who were at that time fighting the blaze, according to Cal Fire. She complained of being dehydrated.
She underwent investigation and was arrested for allegedly triggering the blaze, SFGATE reported.
County records said she is held on $100,000 bail.