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The Man Arrested Near The Start of The Pipeline Fire Sunday Says He Didn’t Start The Wildfire

The man who was arrested near the start of the Pipeline Fire Sunday says he’s not the person who started the fire and so far hasn’t been charged with starting the wildfire. Court documents say 57-year-old Matthew Riser ignited toilet paper and placed it under a rock, several feet from Forest Road 9002 Saturday. On Sunday at around 10:30 a.m., the fire was reportedly burning brush and trees. A man in a white Chevy pickup truck, with a camper shell and Louisiana license plates, was seen driving quickly away from the fire. A Coconino County Sheriff’s deputy found the truck and conducted a traffic stop on Highway 180. Court documents say the deputy pulled over Riser, who told the officer he was camping in the area and burned his used toilet paper Saturday, didn’t thinking it would smolder all night. Riser admitted to burning the paper and placing it under a rock. Documents show when he woke up, he saw flames 200 feet by 200 feet and everything was on fire. Riser told officers he tried putting out the fire with his sleeping bag, but with no luck. His attorney Daniel Kaiser tells KAFF News “the information that I have is there is no evidence that any fire had spread from that area and there is no evidence that there was any burning on the ground at that location.” Kaiser says the U.S. Attorney’s Office said at Riser’s initial hearing that “the fire started about 80 yards away from the rock was where he buried the toilet paper. So tying the two things together, in my opinion, is nearly impossible.” The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office tells KAFF News there are no other suspects wanted in connection with the start of the Pipeline Fire. Riser has been charged with three counts of building a fire during restrictions, residing on the national forest and possession of a controlled substance which was marijuana. A detention and status hearing is set for Thursday morning.

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