More than a year and a half after a massive wildfire swept across the Santa Rita Mountain foothills – causing destruction in the millions of dollars – a video has surfaced showing how one U.S. Border Patrol agent’s bright idea for a gender reveal turned out to be the cause of the costly disaster.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, 37-year-old Dennis Dickey has been sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay a minimum of $220,000 in restitution and fines as part of the plea agreement he struck with prosecutors who were weighing federal charges against him for his role in igniting the Sawmill Fire of April 2017. Not only had Dickey plead guilty to a misdemeanor for causing a fire without a permit, but records also reveal that he had been sure to immediately alert authorities about the blaze as soon as the stunt went wrong. Thus, the Tucson resident was cut a rather forgiving deal that kept him out of prison and left the door open for him to keep his job, according to CBS News.
On Monday, November 26, the Arizona Daily Star‘s decision to release a recording that Dickey turned over to the U.S. Forest Service gave the public a chance to witness his reaction to the gaffe first hand. The 49-second-long clip shows the moment Dickey fires on an explosive target that he had propped up in a desolate area of the Coronado National Forest. Within a split second of the shot ringing out, the words “BOY” and “GIRL” give way to a cloud of blue powder in the recording.
Flames then begin to quickly spread, prompting him to command that an accomplice in his presence begin packing up. The Freedom of Information Act required that the publication protect the identities of those who show up on camera, but two blacked-out figures could be seen scrambling for their possessions before taking off from the scene.
WATCH: Gender-reveal party explosion sparks 2017 Sawmill wildfire in Arizona. https://t.co/PpP3wMgNVn— NBC News (@NBCNews) November 27, 2018
Due to the mix of oxidizers and aluminum powder inside of the Tannerite target Dickey used, the combustion proved powerful enough to extend past Green Valley and to go about scorching 47,000 acres of the region in the days that followed. As the Gazette pointed out in its reporting on Tannerite bans that have been passed in states like Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado – acts similar to that which Dickey pulled off have been responsible for wildfires in the past.
It is a good thing that no lives were lost and no major structures destroyed, but the blaze was still responsible for $8 million in damages caused to land under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service, the state, and the University of Arizona. It would also cause some degree of distress to the more than 800 firefighters who fought to put it out for an entire week.