Border patrol agent's gender reveal party goes wrong, ignites 47,000 acre wildfire
All right, couples, I know you're excited about having babies, but maybe you should hold back on the gender reveal parties. They're getting a little out of control. At first, you were revealing the gender with frosted cupcakes and helium balloons. Now you're using live alligators chomping on Jell-O filled watermelons. And one Arizona man's gender reveal party went so wrong, he accidentally ignited a 47,000 acre wildfire.
The party occurred on April 23, 2017. Dennis Dickey, a 37-year-old border patrol agent, threw the event in the Coronado National Forest. The plan was to fire his rifle at a target, which would explode with pink or blue powder. It sounds like pretty awesome way to reveal your baby's gender. (No offense, frosted cupcakes and helium balloons.)
However, the proud father-to-be also added Tannerite to the mix. Tannerite is a mixture of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder that bursts into vapor with a loud noise when hit with a bullet. To use a technical term, it makes things more explodey. The substance is legal, but when Dickey blasted the target, sparks flew into the dry brush nearby. This started the devastating Sawmill fire.
According to court documents, Dickey "immediately reported the fire to law enforcement, cooperated, and admitted that he started the fire." But despite his effort to fight the flames, the scorching inferno could not be controlled. The Sawmill fire burned for almost two weeks, fueled by the perfect combination of parched grassland and powerful winds.
Luckily, the blaze didn't destroy any buildings, but dozens of residents were forced from their homes. It took 800 firefighters to extinguish the flames, which caused $8 million in damages. $8,188,069, to be exact. (Most expensive gender reveal party ever.)
Last Friday, Dickey pleaded guilty to starting the massive wildfire. "It was a complete accident," he told the judge. "I feel absolutely horrible about it. It was probably one of the worst days of my life." (And it was supposed to be one of his happiest.)
According to the US Justice department, he will pay $220,000 in restitution; an initial payment of $100,000, followed by a payment of $500 a month for the next 20 years. Dickey's attorney, Sean Chapman, stated he will borrow money from his retirement fund to make the payments. In addition, the 37-year-old is sentenced to five years of probation, and will take part in a public service announcement for the Forest Service. (I hope Smokey The Bear says, "Only you can prevent gender reveal parties.)
And after all this, Dickey has not released the gender his baby. You know what means - time to throw another gender reveal party! Just kidding. Maybe Twitter user @jordanrubiks said it best: "a gender reveal party where its just you and your partner in a doctors office and you ask your doctor what the gender of your baby is and then they tell you and then you go home."