How a Baby Gender Reveal Party Sparked an $8 Million Arizona Wildfire
One blue-colored spark was all it took.
After Border Patrol agent Dennis Dickey shot a package of colored explosive at his baby’s gender-reveal party, grasses and shrubs lit up and spread across a mountainside. By the end, the Sawmill Fire, which began April 23, 2017, scorched 45,000 acres of land, costing more than $8 million in damage and firefighting costs.
In September, Dickey pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation and agreed to pay $100,000, plus an additional $500 a month for twenty years toward restitution of $8,188,069. The Arizona Daily Star obtained the video below Monday from the U.S. Forest Service through the Freedom of Information Act.
Dickey said he tried to put the fire out before reporting it. It took at least 799 firefighters to extinguish.
Target shooting is banned on the land where Dickey started the fire. Officials say that mundane events such as operating a chainsaw, dragging tow chains on roads, or even horses clipping a steel shoe on a rock have started fires, the Associated Press reports.
Explosive targets, which are popular for baby gender-reveal parties, have grown popular and caused many fires, reports Wildfire Today.
“I feel absolutely horrible about it,” Dickey told the Arizona Daily Star, “It was probably one of the worst days of my life.”