Man accused of starting Pipeline Fire wants to plead guilty, lawyer says

Matthew Riser plans to plead guilty to one charge and no contest to another, his lawyer said.
Matthew Riser plans to plead guilty to one charge and no contest to another, his lawyer said.(Arizona's Family)
Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 3:13 PM MST
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FLAGSTAFF, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — The man who investigators say started Arizona’s second-largest wildfire in 2022 by burning toilet paper wants to change his plea. According to his lawyer, Matthew Riser wants to plead guilty to using prohibited fire and no contest to occupying or using national forest lands as a residence. A change of plea hearing is scheduled for July 13 at 11:30 a.m. in Flagstaff. He’s still out of jail on his own recognizance. It’s unclear what kind of punishment he would receive for the plea deal.

Court documents said Riser used a white Bic lighter last month to set his toilet paper on fire and then tried to put out the fire with his sleeping bag north of Flagstaff in the Coconino National Forest. Court documents said he also later admitted to seeing the “no campfire” signs. Riser said he was homeless and had been camping in the forest for two days.

The flames exploded on the morning of June 12 and turned into the Pipeline Fire, which burned more than 26,000 acres. As of Wednesday afternoon, the fire is 90% contained, with 35 firefighters monitoring the fire.