What's the most damage you've ever caused at a party? I don't want to sound like someone from the Rolling Stones, but I feel like I've managed to trash a fair few properties while in a drunken state over the years. I once woke up after a night of heavy boozing to find that my living room wall had holes in it, as a result of someone taking a hockey stick to the plaster. On another occasion, somebody at a party I was at managed to (somehow) leave scorch marks all over their carpet. We never found out where those came from.
However, last year Border Patrol agent Dennis Dickey inadvertently managed to start a 47,000-acre wildfire in the state of Arizona, as a result of him throwing a gender-reveal party for his new baby. Ordinarily, you'd expect a new dad to gather a few friends round at the house, have a few drinks, maybe even a game of Twister. However, Dickey made the unconventional decision to detonate a target containing tannerite by shooting at it ... in a field of dry grass. Yeah; if you can't imagine what happened next then you're probably just as clueless as he is.
The US Forest Service has now released a video of the accident, which is currently circulating on social media. Shot on April 23, 2017, the footage shows a target with "Girl" and "Boy" written on it. There is then a loud gunshot, and then the target explodes in a cloud of blue smoke which immediately ignites the surrounding bushland. The flames from this intense explosion then spread to the nearby Coronado National Forest, where they became the Sawmill Fire.
The Sawmill Fire ultimately ended up causing $8,200,000 in damage and took 800 firefighters a week to get under control. Luckily, nobody was hurt or injured, and nobody's home was destroyed. In federal court, Dickey pled guilty to charges of causing a fire without a permit, and was sentenced to pay $220,000 in restitution. He will begin by paying $100,000, and then $500 a month for the next 20 years. He has also agreed to appear in a public service announcement to ensure that nothing like this occurs in future.
Sadly, the wildfires in California have been far more devastating this year, and have caused untold damage to a number of properties in the state; destroying lives and livelihoods in the process. According to figures provided by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 2018's season is now officially the most destructive on record, with over 7,000 fires having so far been recorded over an area of approximately 1,667,855 acres. It's now been estimated that the wildfires have caused $2.9 billion in damages.