AUBURN, Ala. — A 29-year-old Auburn man has been charged with desecration of a venerable object in a fire that damaged oak trees at Toomer’s Corner as fans celebrated a victory over LSU.
Jochen Wiest was initially arrested on a charge of public intoxication, but Auburn police said in a news release Sunday that witnesses identified him in connection with the tree’s burning .
Auburn this season renewed the tradition allowing fans to roll the trees with toilet paper after wins.
The trees were planted in 2015 after the original oaks were poisoned by an Alabama fan.
Gary Keever, a professor of horticulture at Auburn, said there is significant damage to the leaves and base of the tree. He said the tree’s condition had deteriorated by Sunday afternoon and he expects it to lose “essentially all the foliage within the next week.”
“The best case scenario would be to see a flush of new growth next spring, but right now it’s too early to tell how the tree will respond,” Keever said.
Landscape crews will need to replace irrigation pipes that watered the tree through the heat of the day.