Suspect in Arizona wildfire was burning used toilet paper

A 57-year-old man arrested on suspicion of starting a 5,000-acre Arizona wildfire told deputies he burned used toilet paper while living in the Coconino National Forest on Saturday.

The pipeline fire was first reported just after 10 a.m. Sunday, about six miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona. Hundreds of Coconino County residents were ordered to evacuate, according to emergency officials, as high winds fanned the flames.

Less than an hour after the fire was reported, a sheriff’s deputy spotted a Chevrolet pickup truck driving away from the area. The deputy stopped the driver, who initially said he was camping when he spotted the wildfire, according to indictments filed in court.

The driver, later identified as Matthew Riser of Louisiana, then said he had burned used toilet paper with a lighter the day before at noon and placed it under a rock. He told the deputy sheriff he didn’t think the fire would smolder all night and didn’t see the “No campfires” signs posted around the area.

Riser said he saw a 200-by-200-foot fire and “everything was burning, including pine trees,” according to the MP’s affidavit.

After another congressman arrived, Riser told them he camped in the town of Payson, then drove to the National Forest and camped there for two days. According to the affidavit, Riser consented to a search of his vehicle, and deputies found an undisclosed amount of marijuana and a white lighter, which he said he used to ignite toilet paper.

Riser showed a deputy where he burned his toilet paper near the campground. The deputy found human feces under a rock.

Riser was charged on suspicion of setting up an illegal fire, living on US Forest Service land and possessing a controlled substance, according to federal indictment documents.

Winds reached up to 50 miles per hour Monday, fanning the pipeline fire further as it burned on scars from the 2010 Schultz fire and April tunnel fire that destroyed more than 20 homes.

Two other fires, Haywire and Doubles, were reported in the same area. All three were at 0% containment as of Monday afternoon, according to US Forest Service spokesman Brady Smith.

The Haywire and Doubles fires are expected to be merged, and all three would be combined in pipeline fire response, Smith said. Suspect in Arizona wildfire was burning used toilet paper

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