Toomer's blaze under investigation

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Posted: Monday, November 19, 2012 4:50 pm

The investigation into how the Toomer’s Oaks caught on fire early Sunday morning continued Monday by Auburn police and Auburn University officials.

Auburn police are hoping to gain clues from a city webcam trained on Toomer’s Corner in determining whoever is responsible for the fire.

“We have requested and received the video…and will see if we’re able to determine how the fire got started,” said Auburn Police Capt. Tom Stofer, who declined to disclose what information the webcam footage yielded. “At this time, we don’t know if it (fire) was intentional or accidental.”

Members of the Toomer’s Oaks Task Force also examined the trees on Monday, during which time they found significant damage to both trees and to several plants adjacent to the plaza, according to a statement issued by the university. The task force plans to post an update concerning the fire damage to oaks next week.

At approximately 3:23 a.m. Sunday, Auburn firefighters were called to Toomer’s Corner where they found the famed trees that mark the entrance to the Auburn University campus ablaze. The Tigers defeated Alabama A&M 51-7 Saturday afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium, prompting hundreds to douse the trees and surrounding area with the traditional rolls of toilet paper.

“There was a large amount of fire in the toilet paper at the base of the trees going up into the trees,” AFD Chief Lee Lamar said.

After bringing the fire under control, firefighters used a thermal imaging camera to ensure there were no additional hotspots before soaking the plaza area down.

University officials declined to comment whether or not the incident would impact whether or not the trees would continue to be rolled following athletic victories, citing a gag order put in place by a Lee County judge.

While this weekend’s incident marked the latest, it was by no means the first in which the trees have sustained fire damage.

Lamar said the AFD last responded to the trees being set on fire in 2010, the same year that the oaks were allegedly poisoned with a powerful herbicide by University of Alabama fan Harvey Updyke.

Updates about the Oaks at Toomer’s Corner can be found on the website at http://bit.ly/S6HlQ7.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact the APD’s detectives at 334-501-3140 or on their tip line at 334-246-1391.


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