Arizona Sunflower Fire Started by Bachelor

A man in Arizona has been charged with starting a wildfire in a state park which burned more than 17,000 acres of forest land.

Steven Craig Shiflet, 23, from Mesa, Ariz., was charged by a complaint in federal district court that a shotgun round fired by him started the fire back on May 12.

"He and four of his friends had traveled from Mesa to the Sycamore Creek area for a camp out and bachelor party on May 11 of this year," said Bill Solomon with the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Shiflet and four other individuals while at the camp grounds began firing at targets set up just off the camp site. According to court documents, Shiflet loaded the shotgun with an incendiary round and fired at the target. Moments later the group noticed that smoke was coming from behind the target.

After futile efforts to extinguish the fire Shiflet told investigators that he dialed 911 from his cellphone alert fire officials of the fire and was told to leave the area immediately, according to the U.S. District Attorney's office.

Investigators were able to find those responsible for the fire by locating the group through the license plate number of the vehicle at the camp site.

When the men were brought in for questioning they all had similar versions of the events that transpired, according to authorities.

The packaging of the shotgun shell had an explicit warning of a fire hazard stating that flames had the possibility of shooting up to 100 feet.

Shiflet faces three charges, each of which carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison and a $5,000 fine. There was no word as of yet if he has sought legal counsel.

The fire, which started on May 12 about 30 miles north of Mesa, was 80 percent contained and growth potential remained low, according to fire officials.