Guy Arrested in Connection to Arizona Wildfire Burned His Toilet Paper: Cops

His lawyer says there's no evidence he started the Pipeline Fire
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2022 12:27 AM CDT
Guy Arrested in Connection to Arizona Wildfire Admitted He Burned His TP: Cops
The Pipeline Fire burns in the mountains above Flagstaff, Ariz., Sunday, June 12, 2022. The fire has forced the evacuation of several hundred homes.   (Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun via AP)

A man arrested in connection with a wildfire burning north of Flagstaff, Arizona, admitted to authorities he had burned toilet paper he used while camping. Police spotted Matthew Riser, 57, driving "rapidly" away from the Pipeline Fire Sunday and pulled him over; he said he'd burned the TP Saturday around noon and put it under a rock, not realizing it would continue to smolder all night, the Arizona Republic reports. He also said at some point he attempted to put out the fire with his sleeping bag. The Pipeline Fire started around 80 yards from Riser's campsite and was reported Sunday morning. Riser told authorities he'd seen a 200'-by-200' fire, and "everything was on fire including pine trees," before he fled the area.

Riser is charged with building a fire during restrictions, residing on the national forest, and possession of a controlled substance (pot), the Arizona Daily Sun reports. But his lawyer says there's no evidence Riser was living in the forest, nor can it be proven that he started the fire, since the area in which it started is heavily trafficked. Riser told police he had not seen the "no campfires" signs in the area until he was driving away from the fire. The Pipeline Fire had burned about 5,000 acres in the Coconino National Forest as of noon Monday. Evacuations were underway in some areas, the AP reports. (More Arizona stories.)

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