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Man Ordered To Pay $2.7M For Starting NM Wildfire

Neil Jacobs/Getty Images

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) — A Texas man has been ordered to pay $2.7 million in restitution for burning used toilet paper that sparked a wildfire, scorching nearly 83 square miles of a national forest in New Mexico.

Rodrigo Ulloa-Esquivel (u-YO’-LAH ehs-KEE-VEEL), of El Paso, also was sentenced Tuesday to five years of probation. The 30-year-old pleaded guilty in October to a misdemeanor charge stemming from last year’s fire.

The April 2011 fire started when Ulloa-Esquivel lit toilet paper on fire after relieving himself so he would not leave litter behind. High winds sent sparks into nearby brush, and he and his friends were unable to control the fire.

It eventually burned more than 53,000 acres in the Lincoln National Forest, through the Last Chance Canyon in Eddy County, N.M.

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