Dennis Dickey started a $8.2 million fire at a gender reveal party. Picture: US Forest Service
Dennis Dickey started a $8.2 million fire at a gender reveal party. Picture: US Forest Service

How gender reveal became an $11m fire

Video has been released showing how an off-duty Border Patrol agent celebrating his wife's pregnancy last year accidentally started a 47,000-acre wildfire that took nearly 800 firefighters to extinguish.

The New York Post reports that Dennis Dickey, 37, of Tucson, Arizona, pleaded guilty last month to igniting the fire, which caused more than $US8.2 million ($A11.3 million) worth of damage in April 2017 when he shot a target containing Tannerite, a legal but highly explosive substance designed to detonate when shot by a high-velocity firearm.

 

The target was part of Dickey's pre-planned celebration to announce the gender of the couple's child and the target contained blue powder for a boy.

The footage shows the flames quickly spreading before a man can be heard yelling: "Start packing up, start packing up".

Dennis Dickey started a $8.2 million fire at a gender reveal party.  Picture:  US Forest Service
Dennis Dickey started a $8.2 million fire at a gender reveal party. Picture: US Forest Service

As part of Dickey's plea agreement, he will pay $US100,000 ($A138,000) in restitution upon sentencing on October 9. He'll also pay monthly $US500 ($A690) instalments for the next two decades and be sentenced to five years of probation.

"It was a complete accident," Dickey told a judge on Friday. "I feel absolutely horrible about it. It was probably one of the worst days of my life."

Dennis Dickey and his wife Rita had a little boy.  Picture:  Facebook
Dennis Dickey and his wife Rita had a little boy. Picture: Facebook

No injuries were reported in the fire but several residents were evacuated from their homes as a precaution.

Dickey, who is expected to keep his job as a Border Patrol agent, will borrow from his retirement fund to pay the restitution.

 

This article originally appeared in the New York Post and is republished here with permission


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