January 8, 2024 / Modified jan 8, 2024 5:29 p.m.

Tucson man who started Molino II Fire ordered to pay restitution to United States Forest Service

Michael J. Sobcynski enters a plea agreement for using incendiary ammunition.

Molino 2 Fire 2023 An aerial view of the Molino 2 Fire on Catalina Highway in the Coronado National Forest. April 30, 2023
Coronado National Forest Twitter

Michael J. Sobcynski, 64, has been ordered by the US District Attorney’s Office in Arizona, to pay $180,000 in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service, for starting a wildfire near Mt. Lemmon Highway last April.

The “Molino II Fire” which began on Sunday, April 30, 2023, was started after Sobcynski fired incendiary ammunition at an onlookers' homemade target according to Special Agent Brent Robinson, an investigator with the forest service.

Sobcynski fired five shots that caused sparks to fly, subsequently starting several small fires that turned into a larger wildlife that burned about 115 acres within the Coronado National Forest, Santa Catalina District.

According to reports, two witnesses who were at the Molino Basin target shooting area that same day were video recording and said that an unknown older white male approached them and asked if he could shoot at their target using his shotgun. After doing so, they noticed the numerous fires that had been ignited and left the area.

The two witnesses stated that they called the sheriff's office and shared the video with the forest service law enforcement and investigations personnel.

MolinoSuspect firing gun
Forest Service

Based on observations, interviews and reports from others, Robinson with the forest service investigation unit was able to identify and issue two citations to Sobcynski.

In total, it cost the forest service $200,000 to suppress the fire.

According to court documents, Sobcynski entered a guilty plea agreement on Thursday, Dec. 28, for the use of incendiary ammunition, a Class B Misdemeanor offense.

The court has also ordered Sobcynski to pay a fine of $330.00, for the offense of “causing timber, slash, or grass to burn without authorization by permit,” according to court documents.

Sobcynski must pay the fine in full by Thurs., February 29.

Video courtesy of the US National Forest Service

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