David Lidstone, the 81-year-old man friends call "River Dave," has lived in the New Hampshire woods for almost three decades, building a cabin in Canterbury and mostly living off the land.
"He's really a good soul," said Jodie Gedeon, who met Lidstone 20 years ago while she was kayaking along the Merrimack River.
They've been buddies ever since.
"We consider him part of the family," she said.
But the land isn't Lidstone's, and he's been fighting the landowner who lives in Vermont. The two have been locked in a court battle that's gone on for years.
In mid-July, he was arrested for squatting and violating zoning and environmental regulations. He'd been in jail since then.
Just hours after his latest court hearing this week, and with Lidstone still in custody, his cabin mysteriously burned down.
"Several people have offered their cabin and land of theirs for David," said Gedeon.
More on River Dave
Late Thursday, Lidstone was suddenly released from custody. Only NBC10 Boston was there as he got out of jail.
He says he wants to rebuild on the same site, as long as he's not arrested again.
Despite losing all his belongings, he remains upbeat.
"It's all physical stuff," Lidstone told NBC10 Boston after he was released from jail. "It's what you have in friends that counts. These multimillionaires and billionaires -- I'm happier than they are."
Meanwhile, the cause of the fire is being investigated by the state fire marshal.
Lidstone will be back in court next week as the legal fight over the land continues.