Louisiana Man Burning Toilet Paper Starts Big Arizona Wildfire
I've gone camping plenty of times, and I know that you've got to pack out everything you pack in. Well, it's not exactly everything - but I thought that folks understood the subtle exceptions when it came to using the bathroom in the woods. If it is unclear, you leave your leavings behind in a respectful manner (dig a hole, not upstream, etc.), and if you have bio-degradable toilet paper you can leave that in the hole, too.
I had never, ever in my life heard of someone burning their used toilet paper at a campsite to get rid of it until today. As bad of an idea as that sounds like, the results ended up being way worse than you can imagine.
According to a report from Yahoo News, 57-year-old Matthew Riser was arrested Sunday (June 12th) by a Coconino County Sheriff's Deputy as he was driving away from a rapidly emerging wildfire just a few miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona. Riser told authorities that he was camping in the Coconino National Forest area when he saw the fire and decided to flee.
Reportedly, Riser later admitted to deputies that he had burned toilet paper he had used at noon on Saturday (the day before the fire was reported) and put it under a rock before falling asleep. He reportedly said that he did not expect it to smolder all night. When he awoke, he claims that "everything was on fire." Riser reported that he was running from a 200ft by 200ft blaze that was burning out of control.
As of yesterday, the inferno (dubbed the "Pipeline Fire") has destroyed more than 25,000 acres and spawned several smaller, yet very destructive, fires that firefighters are struggling to cope with. The situation is so dire, ABC 15 is reporting that Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has declared a state of emergency.
Even though Riser claims to have not seen the plentiful "no campfire" signs posted throughout the park, and attempted to extinguish the fire with his sleeping bag - authorities have placed him under arrest and have charged him with suspicion of violating the U.S. Forest Service order of stage 2 fire restrictions at the Coconino National Forest.
If convicted, Riser could face a fine of up to $5,000 and up to six months in prison.