‘Somebody naked’ blew up a tree — 911 tapes in UNC detonation released

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) — “Hi, there’s somebody naked pulling up his pants who just blew up a tree on campus,” a caller told a 911 dispatcher just after 3:30 p.m. Thursday.


Davie Poplar, a treasured institution of a tree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was ablaze.


Another witness gave a dispatcher a play-by-play, describing as the the man, now wearing pants, ran from a nearby police officer, then lay down and was detained.

Another caller described the fire as starting with a pile of debris, placed against the tree and lit on fire.

RELATED: UNC identifies former student arrested following on-campus fire, explosion

“Some kid just lit a guitar and some other items on fire under a tree,” another caller said. “It’s flaming pretty high, actually.”

One caller reported to 911 that the man who had lit the fire was yelling. Another witness told CBS North Carolina that the man was yelling about the Antichrist and repeated “Hail Satan!” as he was arrested.

And the 911 calls were recording when a professor trying to extinguish the fire caused a small explosion, burning himself.

“Oh! Oh my god!” one caller exclaimed. “We also need an ambulance. A professor was trying to help put it out, and it exploded.”

The tree is expected to make a full recovery.

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