A 30-year-old woman from Palo Alto was arrested Thursday on suspicion of starting a fast-exploding wildfire in Shasta County, authorities said.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Cal Fire and other crews were dispatched to a new wildfire in a deep, hard-to-reach canyon near Lake Shasta, at Fawndale Road north of Mountain Gate, the agency said. Earlier that day, employees had reported seeing a woman trespassing in the area and acting strangely.
A few hours later at around 8 p.m., a woman — since identified as Palo Alto resident Alexandra Souverneva — emerged out of the brush near the fire line and told firefighters she needed medical help for dehydration. She was transported out of the area for evaluation and treatment.
During a subsequent interview with Cal Fire and law enforcement, officers came to believe Souverneva was responsible for setting the fire, Cal Fire said, though the details of the interview were not clear. She was arrested and has been booked into Shasta County Jail.
The Fawn Fire grew rapidly through rugged terrain and dry fuels overnight Wednesday, engulfing about 1,200 acres with 5% containment as of Thursday afternoon.
The Shasta County Sheriff’s Office has ordered evacuations for residents near Mountain Gate and Shasta Lake and warnings for various other nearby communities. A full evacuation map is available here.
Check back for updates.