German man jailed for sparking Canary Island wildfire by burning toilet paper

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German man jailed for sparking Canary Island wildfire by burning toilet paper
The blaze destroyed 5,000 acres of forest in August, 2016. Photo: AFP

A 27-year-old German man has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for causing a forest fire that claimed the life of a forest worker on the island of La Palma.


Scott Verdine Stumpf admitted to accidentally starting the blaze in August last year after attempting to burn soiled toilet paper following a call of nature in the woods off a forest trail.

The wildfire devastated around 5,000 acres of forest, engulfing the town of El Paso and forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents.

Verdine, a loner who was reportedly living in a cave on the island at the time, was arrested by a Civil Guard patrol who discovered him walking along the road as they went to the scene once the forest fire alarm was raised.

The fire claimed the life of a Francisco José Santana, a 54-year-old forest ranger and father of five, who was a member of one of the teams battling to control the flames.

READ MORE: German firestarter blames blaze on toilet paper mishap

 A provincial court in Santa Cruz de Tenerife ruled that Verdine should also pay €1.8 million ($2 million) for the restoration of the affected forest areas and compensate the relatives of the deceased forest worker.



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