Gender reveal parties are all the rage now. Usually, they go as planned but not for this off-duty Border Patrol agent. On Friday, September 28, Dennis Dickey was fined $220,000 in restitution for accidentally starting a 47,000-acre wildfire. Dickey accidentally caused a wildfire at his and his wife’s gender reveal party in April 2017.
According to the Daily Beast, 37-year-old Dickey pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge for starting a fire all while not having a permit. He single-handedly caused the April 2017 Sawmill Fire in Arizona.
At the gender reveal party, Dickey was supposed to shoot a target that contained Tannerite, it was supposed to explode and reveal a colored powder that correlated to the baby’s gender. According to the Arizona Daily Star, Tannerite is “an explosive substance designed to detonate when shot by a high-velocity firearm.”
Winds were 40 MPH that day and there was a fire watch issued. The explosion caused the fire which resulted in the mass wildfire. Thankfully no injuries were reported due to the fire.
“Dickey immediately reported the fire to law enforcement, cooperated, and admitted that he started the fire,” U.S. Forest Service Special Agent Brent Robinson wrote in an affidavit.
“It was a complete accident,” Dickey said in court. “I feel absolutely horrible about it. It was probably one of the worst days of my life.”
The Sawmill fire lasted for about a week in April 2017. Almost 800 firefighters from various fire stations battled the flame and the fire cost a total of $8.2 million.
According to his plea agreement, Dickey will pay $100,000 in restitution when he is sentenced on October 9, 2018. He will pay the other $120,000 in monthly installments of $500 over the next 20 years. He will also be on probation for five years.
Dickey wasn’t charged the full $8.2 million of the fire because it would be an unreasonable amount for him to pay. He also wasn’t charged with arson because he didn’t set the fire on purpose.
Let’s keep gender reveal parties simply, like balloons. Or better yet, not have them at all!