Oak tree at Toomer's Corner set on fire after Auburn win over LSU, suspect arrested

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(AL.com) One of the oak trees at Toomer's Corner was set on fire following Auburn's win over LSU on Saturday and police arrested a 29-year-old Auburn resident on charges of desecration of a venerable object.

Auburn police arrested Jochen Wiest, who was already in custody on charges of public intoxication and authorities say is "not affiliated with Auburn University," on Sunday afternoon.

"Wiest was developed as a suspect and immediately taken into custody while still in the area on an unrelated charge of public intoxication," according to a press release from Auburn police. "Further investigation resulted in Wiest being identified as the individual responsible for setting the fire and a warrant was obtained for his arrest. He was arrested while incarcerated in the Lee County jail on the prior charge and his bond was set at $1000."

Desecration of a venerable object is a Class A misdemeanor in the state of Alabama, which carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and up to a $6,000 fine.

Surveillance footage appears to show a man Auburn police believe to be Wiest, walk up to the oak tree on W. Magnolia Ave., which had to be replanted during the remodeling process that started in 2015, and set some of the toilet paper hanging from it on fire.

The fire department extinguished the fire shortly after receiving calls at approximately 12:15 a.m., according to Auburn police.

As of 1:45 a.m. Sunday, there were still embers smoldering in the tree enough to catch a small piece of toilet paper on fire. A bystander stomped the small fire out when the paper fell to the ground.

Auburn University professor of horticulture Gary Keever inspected the tree Sunday morning. Keever does not believe the fire has killed the tree but the extent of the damage may not be known for "several days to several weeks" if not longer.

More on this story at AL.com.
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