Border patrol agent started the devastating Sawmill Fire that scorched 45,000 acres, caused $8m worth of damage
A video released by the US Forest Service on Monday shows how the border patrol agent blew up a box to reveal the gender of his child inadvertently igniting the Sawmill Fire
It took just one gunshot to start the April 2017 Sawmill Fire that scorched about 45,000 acres in southern Arizona. Now, a video released by the US Forest Service on Monday shows how the tragedy unfolded.
The video shows a target that was set up to reveal a newborn's gender at a gender-reveal party and was recorded by a witness at the event. The black square-like target labeled "boy" and "girl" placed over shrubby grasslands is seen exploding as the gunshot is heard in the background a split-second before a full-blown fire breaks out, USA Today reports.
The Sawmill Fire burned more than 46,000 acres in southern Arizona. It started with this gender reveal video pic.twitter.com/q2BndHkike— Nick VinZant (@NickVinZant) November 26, 2018
In the footage, initially obtained by The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, dust, fire, and blue smoke can be seen soaring into the air in the midst of the dispersing shrapnel. The blue smoke allegedly indicates the expected baby is a boy.
According to the US Attorney’s Office in Arizona, US Border Patrol agent Dennis Dickey of Tucson, the father, pleaded guilty in September to starting the wildfire. Previous reports show that the fire forced over 100 people to evacuate their homes and caused $8 million worth of damage. Nearly 600 firefighters were deployed to contain the raging blaze.
Dickey agreed to a sentence of five years' probation and to pay restitution totaling more than $8.1 million as part of a plea agreement. Officials said that he agreed to make an initial $100,000 payment and monthly payments thereafter.
Speaking to The Star in September, Dickey's attorney Sean Chapman said that his client started the fire during a gender reveal party while his wife was pregnant. The US Attorney's Office said in September that Dickey was off-duty at the time and placed Tannerite, an explosive substance, into the target.
Officials said the explosion from the gunshot spurred a fire that spread into the Coronado National Forest as well as lands managed by the state and US Bureau of Land Management. Someone is heard yelling "start packing up" twice in the 49-second video, which redacts the images of two people running near the fire. The US Attorney's Office later said in a press release that Dickey immediately reported the incident to law enforcement, cooperated, and admitted that he was the one responsible for starting the fire.