Press Release from US Attorney’s Office:
TWO CHARGED IN ARIZONA WALLOW FIRE
PHOENIX – Two cousins have been charged for causing a fire that burned more than 538,000 acres in Arizona and part of Western New Mexico before it was contained. Caleb Joshua Malboeuf, 26, of Benson, Ariz.; and David Wayne Malboeuf, 24, of Tucson, Ariz., were charged in connection with the Wallow Fire, which started on May 29, 2011, in the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. They are scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court in Flagstaff, Ariz. on September 19, 2011.
The fire, fueled by dry and windy conditions, destroyed 32 residential structures, four commercial structures and 36 outbuildings and cost over $79,000,000 to fight. Both defendants were charged with five counts: Causing Timber to Burn, Leaving a Fire Unattended and Unextinguished, Leaving a Fire Without Completely Extinguishing It, Causing and Failing to Maintain Control of a Fire and Building a Campfire Without Removing All Flammable Material From Around the Campfire Adequate to Prevent its Escape.
“Our national forests are among our most precious resources and we all have a responsibility to care for them when we visit,” stated U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke of the District of Arizona.”This devastating fire destroyed pristine national forest, scenic wilderness, and numerous nearby homes and cabins. Its cost for future generations goes well beyond the resources used to fight it.”
Investigation into the source and origin of the Wallow Fire indicated that the fire started when an unattended and unextinguished campfire in the Bear Wallow area spread out of its fire ring and quickly spread in high winds after Caleb and David Malboeuf had gone on a hike. Upon noticing smoke from the direction of their campsite, the cousins attempted to get back to their campsite where they had left their gear. As they got closer, the smoke and flames became too intense, and they were forced to retreat.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and U.S. Forest Service are in the process of contacting victims of the fire. Victims may also call 1-800-800-2570 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
A conviction for each of the offenses charged in the complaint carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison, a $5,000 fine or both. A criminal complaint is simply the method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference of guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The investigation in this case was conducted by the U.S. Forest Service, with assistance from the Apache County Sheriff’s Office and the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Schneider, District of Arizona, Flagstaff.
CASE NUMBER: 11-04234-M