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A Flagstaff Man Pleads Guilty To Starting A Wildfire In The Grand Canyon In 2019

Grand Canyon

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A Flagstaff man has pled guilty to starting the Cottonwood Creek Fire in the Grand Canyon National Park in 2019. Park officials say 71-year-old Thomas Grabarek pled guilty Tuesday on misdemeanor charges of starting a wildland fire within the park. On October 27th, 2019, while backpacking near Cottonwood Creek, Grabarek started a fire by using toilet paper. High winds that day allowed the fire to quickly spread uphill. Park Service wildland fire personnel were called to the scene to tend to the blaze. The Cottonwood Creek Fire burned around 64 acres in the Inner Canyon along the Tonto Trail near Horseshoe Mesa. In his plea agreement, Grabarek agreed to pay over 53-thousand dollars in restitution. The money will be used to help rehabilitate the burn area over the next four years. He also agreed to perform community service by making a public service announcement and assisting staff in the creation of educational signs regarding the dangers of burning toilet paper in the backcountry.