Toomer's Oaks mysteriously ablaze



At approximately 3:20 a.m. Nov. 18, toilet paper hanging from Toomer's Oaks mysteriously caught fire.

Most of the mass of paper left from Auburn's win against Alabama A&M was consumed in a brilliant flame next to Biggin Hall.

Police officers on the scene did not know the cause of the fire, which was soon extinguished by the fire department.

Alessio Summerfield, junior in RTVF, had just finished eating at Jimmy John's when someone shouted that Toomer's Corner was on fire.

"It was one of the most surreal experiences I've had as an Auburn student," Summerfield said. "I think it took me and the group I was with quite a while to process what we were actually seeing."

Before the fire department arrived, Summerfield said he and other students were immediately concerned that the fire might spread to campus.

"We just kept swearing and freaking out about how the fire might spread to campus, tree by tree," Summerfield said.

This is not the first time Toomer's Oaks have been up in flames.

Following Auburn's 49-31 win over UGA Nov. 13, 2010, an upset Georgia fan set fire to the paper hanging from the trees.

Summerfield said whatever started the fire probably didn't result out of spite.

"Since this happened once before in 2010, and the folks that are out that late are usually the belligerent type, I don't really think it was done out of malice," Summerfield said.

At 2 p.m., it could be clearly seen that the outside of the trees were visibly charred.

At approximately 2:10 p.m., Jacob Dean, junior in political science, was downtown running errands when he read the news about the trees and visited the corner.

"You can still see that everything is pretty charred," Dean said. "You can smell the smoke around the area."

Rodney Hartsfield, deputy fire chief of the Auburn Fire Division, said occurrences such as this are more common than students may think.

"This isn't the first time the trees have caught on fire," Hartsfield said. "It happens periodically through every football season. With that amount of toilet paper up in the trees, all it takes is a cigarette. We still don't know what started it Sunday morning."

As of 10:21 a.m. Nov. 19, Capt. Tom Stofer of the Auburn Police Department said there is no more information to be released and that the investigation is ongoing.

Toomer's Oaks have been in the news consistently since January of 2011 for allegedly being poisoned by self-proclaimed Alabama fan Harvey Updyke.

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