Arizona Man Charged With Starting Sunflower Wildfire

A Mesa, Arizona man has been charged in connection with the Sunflower Wildfire that burned some 18,000 acres in May.

What started as a fun camping trip and bachelor party that involved shooting guns at targets has turned into a federal court charge for Steven Craig Shiflet, 23, of Mesa, Arizona.

He and four of his friends were camping near the intersection of Forest Road 25 and Sycamore Creek from May 11 to May 12, but the bachelor party took a turn for the worse when Shiflet decided to shoot an incendiary shotgun shell.

“Shortly after Shiflet fired the shot, smoke appeared in the brush just behind where the shot was fired. Despite their attempts to do so, the men were unable to extinguish the fire. The fire has now burned nearly 18,000 acres of National Forest System lands,” read a release from the United States Attorney’s office about the Sunflower Wildfire in Tonto National Forest.

Shiflet was charged on June 22 with three counts of carelessly or negligently placing an ignited substance that may cause a fire on National Forest System lands, firing incendiary ammunition on National Forest System lands, and causing timber, trees, slash, brush, or grass to burn on National Forest System lands.

If convicted he could face up to six months in prison, a fine of $5,000, or both. He is scheduled to appear in federal court in Phoenix on July 13.