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A Mesa man who admitted shooting a fire-producing shotgun shell during a bachelor party that started the 18,000-acre Sunflower Fire was sentenced to two years' probation, a fine of $2,000 and 200 hours of community service with the U.S. Forest Service.
Steven Shiflet, 23, was sentenced in federal court Monday morning.
Shiflet and four of his friends traveled to the Sycamore Creek area from Mesa for a camping trip and bachelor party May 11.
The group brought numerous guns and shot at various targets for about two hours on the morning of May 12 when Shiflet loaded a shell into a shotgun and fired it at a soda box, according to court documents. Shiflet said he believed the round would shoot out flame or act like a flare gun, according to prosecutors.
Smoke appeared in the brush just behind where the shot was fired and Shiflet and his friends were unable to stomp it out, according to the complaint. Investigators said the Sunflower Fire started near the intersection of Forest Road 25 and Sycamore Creek.
Shiflet called 911 from his cell phone at 10:18 a.m. and reported the fire and voluntarily surrendered the guns.
Shiflet also handed over a shotgun shell and said it was the exact same type of round that he had fired just seconds prior to the start of the fire. The warning on the packing reads, "Shoots 100 feet of fire, setting everything in its path ablaze. Warning: Extreme FIRE HAZARD," according to the document.
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