Police say a woman started a wildfire this week that has consumed dozens of structures and now threatens thousands of residents. It’s unclear why the 30-year-old may have started the blaze Wednesday that has now burned more than 8.5 square miles.
Firefighters were battling the Fawn Fire in Northern California when Alexandra Souverneva walked out of the fireline and asked for help. She said needed water and aid, the Daily Mail reported. Firefighters whisked her out of the area for treatment. But during discussions with investigators, the woman said things that made them believe she may be responsible for starting the wildfire. They didn’t say what that was, but they arrested Souverneva and charged her with arson to wildland among other charges, KRCR-TV reported. Authorities were holding her at the Shasta County jail on a $100,000 bond, according to county custody records.
Workers in the area said they saw a woman trespassing in the area where the fire started on Wednesday. She was “acting irrationally,” a Cal Fire statement said, according to PaloAltoOnline. It’s unclear if Souverneva is that woman.
Cal Fire investigators say the Fawn Fire started just north of Redding, Calif. It’s since burned 5,500 acres of mostly steep, mountainous terrain covered in heavy timber, Cal Fire said. The wildfire was only 5 percent contained as of Thursday night, the most recent update.
The wildfire destroyed 25 buildings, but it’s unknown how many of those are homes. The Fawn Fire threatens to burn through another 2,000 structures in the surrounding areas. Shasta County Sheriff’s Office issued a mandatory evacuation order for those areas, the Daily Mail noted.
Wildfires Devastating Large Portions of California
California firefighters are currently battling 10 wildfires across the state at the moment. Blazes this year have burned more than 3,671 square miles and destroyed more than 3,200 homes. Fast-moving, dry winds and arid conditions have fueled these fires.
Though, the majority of those trees should survive the fire, thanks to quick-thinking firefighters. They wrapped foil around the base of some of the most important of the 2,000-year-old trees, including The General Sherman Tree, the world’s largest tree by volume. They also created barriers around those areas using controlled burns, and they swept away dried vegetation from the forest floor to remove potential fuel.
Ed Christopher, deputy fire director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the firefighters’ actions likely saved a majority of those sequoias.
“And because of that, we feel that the majority of the trees in this Giant Forest area should come out of this event like they have for the past thousands of years,” he said, according to the Daily Mail.