Man who allegedly started Pipeline Fire burned toilet paper, claims he didn’t see ‘no campfires’ signs

Court documents have revealed more details of what might have sparked the Pipeline Fire near...
Court documents have revealed more details of what might have sparked the Pipeline Fire near Flagstaff.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 10:51 AM MST
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FLAGSTAFF, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Court documents revealed more about what might have caused the Pipeline Fire, which is raging north of Flagstaff. On Sunday, authorities arrested 57-year-old Matthew Riser after a forest official said he started the fire and tried to drive off in a white pickup truck along Snowbowl Road.

Riser, who is from Louisiana, initially told Coconino County deputies that he was camping when he saw the fire spark. When the sergeant asked if he saw any “no campfire” signs, he said “no” but that soon he saw “a two-hundred-foot by two-hundred-foot” fire and that “everything was on fire.” Court documents say another deputy showed up to ask him more questions. During the interview, Riser reportedly admitted to lighting toilet paper, which he called “sh**” paper, and had tried to put it out with his sleeping bag, which was 80 yards from where the fire started. Riser later said he was homeless and had been camping in the forest for two days. According to court paperwork, he also admitted to seeing the “no campfire” signs when he drove out.

Riser said he used a white Bic lighter to set the paper on fire, which deputies found in the center console of the pickup truck. Riser also told deputies he had marijuana in his truck and showed them where he had pooped. While marijuana is legal in Arizona, he could face a charge for having it on federal land.

Riser faces a charge for occupying or using a residence on forest service lands. He appeared before a federal magistrate Monday morning in Flagstaff. It’s unclear what other charges he could face related to the wildfire.