Flames rise up from the Rodeo/Chediski fire near Cibecue, Arizona on June 28, 2002.
Flames rise up from the Rodeo/Chediski fire near Cibecue, Arizona on June 28, 2002.
Photo: Getty

An Arizona border patrol agent started a wildfire during a “gender reveal” party involving a firearm and explosives, likely making it the most expensive such celebration in the history of the ridiculous ritual.

Dennis Dickey was off-duty when he celebrated the revelation of his unborn child’s sex on state-owned property close to Madera Canyon in April 2017, reports the Arizona Daily Star.


A forest service agent wrote in a court affidavit that Dickey shot a target filled with the explosive Tannerite. The color of the powder plume that exploded from the target was intended to correlate with the expected sex of the baby—blue for boy, pink for girl. This particular method has recently gained popularity among gun enthusiasts, and several examples of the execution have been uploaded to YouTube.

The area was under a fire watch at the time, the Green Valley Fire Department chief told the Daily Star. According to the affidavit, the colored explosion ignited one and Dickey immediately reported the fire, saying he had started it.

The Sawmill Fire eventually spread across 47,000 acres over the course of a week and drew nearly 800 firefighters. According to a release from the Department of Justice, the blaze caused $8.2 million in damage. Fortunately, there were no reported injuries or damaged buildings.

Dickey pleaded guilty on Friday to the misdemeanor offense of causing a fire without a permit, the Daily Star reports. He was ordered to pay $220,000 in restitution and serve five years of probation.


“It was a complete accident,” Dickey told the judge, according to the Daily Star. “I feel absolutely horrible about it. It was probably one of the worst days of my life.”

Dickey’s attorney Sean Chapman told the Daily Star that he believes his client will keep his job as a border patrol agent.


[Arizona Daily Star, Department of Justice]

Former senior reporter at Gizmodo

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