TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma -- An Oklahoma Forestry Services wildland firefighter has been placed on administrative leave pending termination following being arrested by Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry Special Agents pending charges being presented to the Cherokee County District Attorney.
Mike Malenski was arrested Monday in connection with a series of wildfires that were intentionally set in Cherokee County. The 38 year-old previously served as a Forest Ranger II based in Tahlequah.
Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, & Forestry law enforcement officers thoroughly investigated the fires after receiving calls regarding the possible arson. They will be presenting the case to the Cherokee County District Attorney for prosecution.
As mandated by Oklahoma Forestry Code, Oklahoma Forestry Services, a Division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, enforces all laws related to the protection of forests and woodlands and prosecutes violators. Arson is a felony punishable by up to three years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.
"We investigate arson and we bring those we catch to justice. It was regrettable that it was one of our own employees," said Mark Goeller, assistant director in charge of fire operations with Oklahoma Forestry Services.
Mike Malenski worked 7 years for Oklahoma Forestry Services.