YET ANOTHER TOILET PAPER ARSONIST: An 18-year-old volunteer firefighter allegedly started 21 wildfires over the last couple months; ABC-27 News reported that Adam Ewing, of Three Springs, was arrested by the Bureau of Forestry for setting wildland fires in February and March.
On Saturday, Feb. 11, a series of wildfires started in southern Huntingdon County. Just before 2:30 p.m., crews were called out to a fire near Captain Jack’s Road. This fire burned about a half acre in dead leaves and brush before firefighters could control the flames. About 20 minutes later, crews were dispatched to another fire along Old Tannery Road in the Saltillo Borough. Another third of an acre was burned before firefighters were able to control it, according to a criminal affidavit.
On Feb. 14, investigators from the Bureau of Forestry visited the locations of the two fires to determine a cause. They concluded the fires had been maliciously lit with the intention to burn or spread.
WTAJ-TV News reported that just before 2:30 p.m., crews were called out to a fire near Captain Jack’s Road; it burned .51 acres of dead leaves and brush before firefighters were able to extinguish the flames.
Investigators then learned that Ewing was the one who had called in the fire along Captain Jack’s Road. Later on Feb. 14, multiple fire crews were called out after two wildfires were reported near Hamman Road and Sugar Grove Road in Cromwell Township. Investigators from the Bureau of Forestry responded to the fires and were able to confirm again that these fires had been intentionally lit, according to the criminal complaint. The Three Springs Volunteer Fire Company’s Chief Chris Grace told the forestry investigators that Ewing — a volunteer firefighter — was the first to arrive at the fire station for the call. On Feb. 23 and 24, another 10 fires were reported — and also called arson by state Forestry. Police noted in the filed charges that at three of the fires, they found pieces of toilet paper with a rose pattern. Investigators went to Ewing’s home, where they confirmed that the toilet paper at the burn sites matched the rose pattern toilet paper at Ewing’s home. Ewing has yet to post his $500,000 bail. He’s facing 63 felony charges
A mapping flight at 9:38 MDT Monday night determined that the Pipeline Fire had grown to 20,178 acres and the Haywire Fire was 4,051 acres. Both blazes are within the Coconino National Forest, but at that time the Haywire Fire had reached the boundary and may spread outside the Forest. The Double Fire appears to have merged with the Haywire Fire.
The fires are burning in timber and grass. Some of the areas near the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument have volcanic soils with little vegetation between patches of shrubs, grass, and trees. The elevation ranges from 6,000 to 10,000 feet, with the higher elevations on the west side of the Pipeline fire having a much greater density of timber as evidenced by the photo below and the extreme fire behavior Monday when flames at least 400 feet high were seen in videos.
In April of this year the 19,000-acre Tunnel Fire burned across the National Monument. The photo below was taken in 2017.
Updated at 11:00 p.m. MDT June 13, 2022
I have seen and been under many smoke columns, but I’ve never seen this on a large fire. Things that come to mind are mountain wave and wind shear. And, GTFO.
Fire officials said the Pipeline Fire has burned about 6,500 acres.
A man has been arrested Sunday in connection with starting the fire. He told officers he had ignited toilet paper after using it and placed it under a rock Saturday, and that he tried to put out the fire with his sleeping bag. His camp was 80 yards from where the fire started, according to court documents.
This is not the first time a wildfire has been ignited by burning toilet paper. We have eight other articles on Wildfire Today tagged “toilet paper”.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Dick.
Updated at 8:13 p.m. MDT June 13, 2022
In a briefing Monday evening fire officials said at least one structure has been destroyed in the three fires burning north and northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona. It appears that the Pipeline, Haywire, and Double Fires have or will soon merge with the footprint from the Tunnel Fire that burned about 19,000 acres north of Flagstaff in April of this year.
The blaze was exhibiting extreme fire behavior Monday afternoon.
Coconino County has established a website with maps showing evacuation status.
Monday afternoon the wind near the fire was gusting as high as 49 mph out of the south-southwest while the relative humidity dropped as low as 6 percent. This, and the very dry vegetation, accounts for the extreme fire behavior on Monday.
2:35 p.m. MDT June 13, 2022
Three fires in northern Arizona are spreading rapidly in the Coconino National Forest north and northeast of Flagstaff.
The Pipeline Fire six miles north of the city started Sunday morning June 12. On Monday it has been pushed by winds gusting out of the southwest at 25 to 35 mph as the relative humidity dropped to 10 percent in the afternoon. It has reached the Tunnel Fire that blackened about 19,000 acres in April of this year. Judging from the massive smoke column it appears to be burning around it. Fire officials estimate it has blackened approximately 5,000 acres, but that number is changing hourly.
Another fire, the Haywire Fire, was was reported Sunday afternoon on the southeast side of the Tunnel Fire perimeter. It is about seven miles northeast of the Pipeline Fire, making it unlikely that it could have begun as a spot fire started by a lofted burning ember. Fire authorities said the probable cause of the 1,600- acre fire is from a lightning strike several days earlier and is expected to merge with the Double Fire.
A third fire was also reported Sunday afternoon about two miles south of the Haywire Fire. The Double Fire has burned about 500 acres according to Forest officials and was likely also caused by lightning.
The 27-year-old German cave-dweller who ignited a deadly wildfire while burning used toilet paper on a Spanish island has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Scott Verdine Stumpf admitted last year to accidentally starting the August fire while burning used toilet paper — Spanish media outlets reported he had been living in a nearby cave for an extended period of time. In addition to prison, he was ordered to pay the equivalent of about $2 million U.S. dollars in restitution, local media outlets reported.
From the Daily Mail at 8:29 p.m. MDT August 8, 2016:
“More than 4,400 firefighters battled hundreds of forest blazes in Portugal as a man admitted causing a huge Spanish wildfire by lighting soiled toilet paper.
The National Civil Protection Authority in Portugal said by late afternoon almost 1,500 vehicles and 32 water-dumping planes were deployed at 702 wildfires, some of which have been burning for days.
Meanwhile, after raging for six days, a Spanish wildfire which started when a German lit his spoiled toilet paper was finally brought under control as 500 residents were evacuated and a forest worker was killed.
In Spain, authorities said firefighters had managed to bring a six-day-old forest fire on the Atlantic island of La Palma under control and were allowing evacuated residents to return to their homes.
The regional government for the Canary Islands archipelago said the measure affected 500 residents evacuated a day earlier from the town of Villa de Mazo.
The fire claimed the life of one forest worker and has destroyed more than 4,000 hectares (9,900 acres) of forest on the volcanic island off the northwest coast of Africa.”
The National Weather Service in Pocatello, Idaho reports that Friday morning snow fell at the Elevenmile Fire between Bonanza and Challis.
Due to a forecast that included rain and snow, firefighters were removed from high elevation spike camps on the fire Thursday.
The lightning-caused fire discovered on August 24 has burned over 10,300 acres.
Cyclist who started fire by burning his toilet paper may be on the hook for large dollars
The bicyclist who accidentally started a fire near Boise on July 22 by burning his soiled toilet paper may have to pay a fine as well as a portion of the suppression costs. The Idaho Statesman reported that BLM spokesperson Carrie Bilbao said the costs are likely to be between $50,000 and $75,000 which includes the use of four air tankers and three helicopters. The fire was stopped before it approached homes after burning 73 acres.
Scooping air tankers drop 182,000 gallons on a fire in Montana
Below are excerpts from an article at KPAX about firefighting aircraft working out of Helena, Montana this summer:
“In an average year we have 15 to 20 aircraft that come through in a season,” says Helena National Forest public affairs officer Kathy Bushnell. “So far this year, we’ve had 20-plus different aircraft come through.”
Thanks to its location, aircraft staged here can reach many parts of central Montana quickly. The Aviation Center serves multiple aircraft.
“Helicopters, we have air tankers, single-engine air tankers, heavy air tankers that’ll come in depending on what is ordered for the fires,” Bushnell said.
This week, firefighters are also getting an assist from visitors from Canada, CL-415 water bombers.
“We requested some additional aircraft to come out to help us with the fires here in Montana, Idaho, and Washington,” said Bushnell.
The bomber scoops water from lakes into huge tanks – 1,600 gallons in 12 seconds.
The water bombers arrived in town Monday. On Tuesday, they were hard at work on the Bray Fire burning north of Holter Lake.
“They worked about six flight hours,” according to Bushnell. “They were able to do 112 loads which equates to about 182,000 gallons of water that was used on the fire.”
Health warning in California due to wildfire smoke
The Rough Fire east of Fresno, California has prompted the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to issue a health warning to people headed to the mountains and foothills of Tulare and Fresno counties this weekend.
The district says children and the elderly are especially vulnerable.