Sentence for Starting Record Arizona Fire: 2 Days in Jail

Cousins Caleb and David Malboeuf thought they put out campfire
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 23, 2012 3:00 AM CDT
Sentence for Starting Record Arizona Fire: 2 Days in Jail
In this Sept. 19, 2011 file photo, Caleb Malboeuf arrives at Federal Court in Flagstaff, Ariz. Malbouef and cousin David Malbouef are charged with starting the Wallow Fire.   (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

Two cousins who admitted starting the largest wildfire in Arizona history were sentenced yesterday to spend a weekend in jail and perform 200 hours of community service. Caleb and David Malboeuf also will each be on supervised probation for five years. The Malboeufs were camping in Arizona's Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in May 2011 when their campfire spread outside its rings, sparking the Wallow Fire. The blaze cost more than $79 million to contain, and burned more than 538,000 acres, or about 840 square miles.

The cousins pleaded guilty in March to misdemeanor charges of building a campfire without clearing flammable material and leaving it unattended. A tearful David Malboeuf took the blame for lighting the campfire, saying he thought he had taken necessary precautions to put it out but recognized the mistake was in not dousing it with water. "I've always tried to go camping with one thing in mind—take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but tracks—and we didn't do that, and that breaks my heart," Caleb Malboeuf said. "I really am sorry for what we did." The prosecution estimated property damage at $5 million; at one point, nearly 10,000 people were forced to evacuate. (Read more wildfires stories.)

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