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Arizona man guilty of igniting fire at Grand Canyon by burning toilet paper

(Flickr Photo/Grand Canyon National Park)

PHOENIX – An Arizona man pleaded guilty this week to sparking a wildland fire in Grand Canyon National Park last year by burning toilet paper, authorities said.

Thomas Grabarek, 71, of Flagstaff was backpacking near Cottonwood Creek on Oct. 27, 2019, when he attempted to incinerate toilet paper, according to a National Park Service press release.

High winds spread the flames, which went on to consume 64 acres in the Inner Canyon along the Tonto Trail near Horseshoe Mesa before National Park Service firefighters got control of the blaze known as the Cottonwood Fire.

As part of the plea to misdemeanor violations, Grabarek agreed to pay restitution of $53,520, according to the release.

The money will be used to help rehabilitate the area scorched by the fire over the next four years.

Grabarek also agreed to participate in a public service announcement about the dangers of burning toilet paper in the backcountry.

Campfires and other open fires are always prohibited below the rim of the Grand Canyon. Hikers and campers are only allowed to use gas stoves.

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