First Arriving Network
First Arriving Network

New Ways To Start Wildfires

Another Great Innovation Born In a Bachelor Party

THE INVESTIGATION INTO THE CAUSE of the 18,000-acre Sunflower Fire in Arizona in May has concluded with the discovery of how it got started.

Steven Shiflet

On May 12, when the fire began, Steven Shiflet, 23, and four of his friends were on a bachelor-party camping trip near Payson, Arizona, and decided to do some target shooting for a couple of hours.  After a while, Shiflet loaded his 12-gauge shotgun with an incendiary shell for whatever reason.  The package containing the shells is clearly marked:  "Shoots 100 feet of fire, setting everything in its path ablaze. Warning Extreme FIRE HAZARD."

It was right after firing that round that the party saw a puff of smoke rising from the brush and they tried to put out the smoldering fire.  Unable to successfully extinguish it, the called 9-1-1 and reported the fire.  It has since spread to 18,000 acres and was marked under control on July 5.  However it is still burning and will continue to be monitored until it gets any rainfall to completely put it out.

KTVK-TV is reporting:

According to a criminal complaint released by the US Department of Justice, Steven Craig Shiflet, 23, is facing three counts in connection with the case.

Those counts include negligently placing an ignited substance that may cause a fire, firing incendiary ammunition, and causing a fire — all on National Forest lands.

A conviction for each of the charges in the complaint carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.


Also it should be noted that incendiary loads are prohibited at ALL TIMES in National Forest lands.  KTVK-TV also filed this video report:


If you are uncertain on what an incendiary shell is, there are many videos on YouTube demonstrating the Dragon's Breathy 12-gauge shell which is what Shiflet was using, such as this clip demonstrates:


All five members of the party willingly admitted to their activities and gave accurate accounts for the incident.  Shiflet will be making a court appearance on July 13.

Read more about this case HERE.

Hat tip:  Chuck J.

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