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Woman charged in Fawn Fire to be examined for mental health

October 6, 2021 GMT

REDDING, Calif. (AP) — A woman accused of starting a wildfire in Northern California that destroyed more than 100 homes last month will be examined by psychiatrists to determine her mental stability before court proceedings continue.

Alexandra Souverneva, 30, of Palo Alto, appeared before a judge in Redding on Tuesday.

Authorities believe Souverneva set the Fawn Fire on Sept. 22 near Shasta Lake that burned 185 homes and other buildings in an unincorporated area north of the city of Redding. Investigators said she was found near where the fire started and was arrested.

Souverneva is facing a felony arson charge with enhancements because the fire started during a state of emergency. She could face up to nine years in prison if convicted. Souverneva has pleaded not guilty.

Her attorney, Gregg Cohen, raised concerns in court Tuesday about her competence.

“She does need to see and meet with one or two psychiatrists,” Cohen said. “She’s being treated in jail right now with mental health concerns.”

The court agreed to have her evaluated before her next appearance in November. She is currently being treated in the Shasta County Jail.