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5:23 pm
Wed August 22, 2012

Two Sentenced for Starting Wallow Fire

Two cousins who admitted starting the largest wildfire in Arizona’s history were sentenced today to 48 hours in jail, five years probation and 200 hours of community service.

 The U-S Magistrate decided not to fine them saying all payments should be made in restitution to victims who lost their homes.

Both Caleb and David Malboeuf tearfully told the judge how remorseful they were having spent much of their lives camping in the forest. The judge said he wanted the sentences to serve as a deterrent to others.

Prosecutor Patrick Schneider says he thought the sentences were fair.

"In their lifetimes our lifetimes the forest will never be the same," Schneider said. "But at the same time the court recognized these defendants are good people. They didn’t intend to start this fire and no one feels worse about it than they do."

Caleb Molboeuf’s attorney, David Derickson agreed, "These folks aren’t ever going to do anything stupid again. But other people have to get the message that they can’t start a campfire without assuring it’s out."

The Malboeuf cousins were camping in eastern Arizona's Apache Sitgreaves National Forest in May of 2011 when their campfire spread outside its ring, sparking the Wallow Fire. The men told investigators they thought they had put out their campfire before going on a hike.

The blaze burned more than a half million acres in Arizona and parts of western New Mexico. The Wallow Fire destroyed more than 30 homes and forced thousands of people to evacuate. It cost more than 79-million dollars to suppress.

Prosecutors have tried to contact nearly 60 victims that could be entitled to restitution in the case. The state of Arizona and two tribes could still file claims. A restitution hearing was set for October 15th.
 

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