By J. Henderson
I got to Toomer’s pretty early Sunday morning… to bask. Though the silly string of victory was spread all the way to Samford Hall, the two famous corner oaks were empty, which was initially depressing (had an Iron Bowl win finally become ho-hum?) and then infuriating, as the explanation as to why unfolded, for beneath my feet was the soggy char of what looked to have been a fire. I asked a member of the clean-up crew what happened. They appeared to be just getting started.
“Someone started a fire last night.”
And yep, it’s true…
… and the timing couldn’t have been worse: the latest issue of Auburn Magazine, which came out just two weeks ago, has a cover-story detailing the poor health of the two historic trees.
Though only rumors as to the pigskin persuasion of the perpetrators are presently available, there was a perpetrator; it was no accident, as some really great people have suggested (it’s a toss-up for me, favorite-wise: ‘burn burn burn’ or the guy wishing Toomer’s Drugs had gone up in smoke). But as of 2pm Wednesday, no one has been arrested in connection to the blaze.
The APD police report, logged at 2:20am Sunday, simply reads: “Toomer’s Corner trees on fire. Fire is under control.”
Auburn Fire Division’s Deputy Chief Lee Lamar said that around 2am Sunday morning “witnesses saw a gentleman pull out a pocket lighter and [after igniting the toilet paper] run on down the street. He couldn’t be identified, nor which side he pulled for or anything else. It did burn the trees a little bit and scorched some paint on the cherry picker behind there but no one was hurt.”
Only “six or seven” minutes passed between the time the fire was first reported and the arrival of the fire department, Lamar said.
Slice this up with Occam’s Razor and you can decide the likely description of the arsonist yourself.
*** Correction: It was “six or seven” minutes between the time when witnesses said the fire was started and the arrival of AFD.