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Texas man ordered to pay $2.7 million for starting New Mexico wildfire

A U.S. man has been ordered to pay $2.7 million for burning used toilet paper that sparked a wildfire and scorched nearly 83 square miles of a national forest in New Mexico.

Rodrigo Ulloa-Esquivel also was sentenced Tuesday to five years of probation. The 30-year-old had pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge related to last year's fire. Authorities do not believe the wildfire was started intentionally, hence the misdemeanor charge, Elizabeth M. Martinez, the public affairs officer from U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales’ office said.

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 parts of the Lincoln National Forest.

Oftentimes individuals arraign a reasonable amount of money to pay, say, per month to pay down the penalty and many times end up paying for the rest of their lives. It is unclear if Esquivel made a payment agreement.

Fox News' Edmund DeMarche and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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