It’s tempting to blame the US west’s wildfires on arson. The truth is more complex

It’s tempting to blame the US west’s wildfires on arson. The truth is more complex

Rumors have pointed to antifa, rightwingers, even space lasers as culprits but fire-setting accounts for a minority of blazes

As California endures another grueling wildfire season, the charges against two alleged arsonists this summer attracted widespread attention.

Alexandra Souverneva, a former doctoral student and yoga teacher, made tabloid headlines in September when she told investigators suspecting her of causing the Fawn fire that she had tried to start a fire to boil water she thought contained bear urine. The arrest of Gary Maynard, a former criminal justice professor who allegedly went on a fire-setting spree near Lassen national forest in an effort to trap crews fighting the Dixie fire the month before, prompted warnings about the “potent threat” of an arsonist’s match as the state grapples with megafires.

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