The man told investigators that he lit toilet paper to get rid of it and that high winds spread the fire.
GRAND CANYON, Arizona – National Park Service investigators announced Thursday that a man pleaded guilty to starting the fire on Cottonwood Creek in Grand Canyon National Park.
Flagstaff's 71-year-old Thomas Grabarek pleaded guilty to fire violations in Grand Canyon National Park. The fire at Cottonwood Creek burned 30 acres in the Inner Canyon along the Tonto Trail near Horseshoe Mesa.
The fire ignited on October 27, 2019. According to investigators, 71-year-old Thomas Grabarek of Flagstaff burned toilet paper to burn it, and high winds quickly swept the fire uphill as it spread.
Grabarek agreed to pay $ 53,520.03 in restitution. This money will go to help park managers clean up the burned area over the next four years.
He will also do community service by making a public announcement and helping create materials for public education about the dangers of burning toilet paper in the backcountry.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, nearly 85% of forest fires nationwide are man-made.
"Gas stoves can be used when hiking and camping below the rim of the Grand Canyon, but campfires and other open fires are never allowed," officials said.