Gender reveal party gone wrong caused $8 million Sawmill Fire

Gunshot sparked major wildfire incident that burned 45,000 acres

Gender reveal party gone wrong caused $8 million Sawmill Fire

Catastrophe & Flood

By Lyle Adriano

The 2017 Sawmill Fire that saw about 45,000 acres burn in southern Arizona was caused by – of all things – a gender reveal party.

The US Forest Service recently released a video from a witness that depicts how the fire started. In the video, a target was set up for the party which would reveal whether a newborn would be a girl or boy once hit. A gunshot is heard in the video, and the target disperses blue smoke, revealing that the child is a boy. The target also violently explodes, igniting nearby shrubbery.

As the fire blazes in the video, two individuals whose faces have been redacted run past the flames as an off-screen voice yells “start packing up” twice.

The video was obtained by The Arizona Daily Star from the Forest Service.

Dennis Dickey, a US Border Patrol agent from Tucson and the father of the child, pleaded guilty in September for his role in starting the fire. He immediately reported the fire to law enforcement as it happened, cooperated with authorities and admitted his role in the incident.

It took almost 600 firefighters and related crews to control the wildfire. The blaze also forced some 100 people to evacuate their homes, and caused $8 million worth of damage.

Dickey agreed to a sentence of five years’ probation as part of a plea agreement. He was also ordered to pay more than $8.1 million in restitution. Officials said that he agreed to make an initial $100,000 payment, to be followed by monthly payments.

The agent was off-duty at the time of the explosion, which was caused by Tannerite, an explosive substance, Dickey had installed into the target.

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