Gender Reveal Explosion Video Released Following Arizona Wildland Plea

After several re-reads of the headline, I still could not quite grasp what the story was about. It wasn’t until I watched the news video that I realized what occurred. An off-duty Border Patrol agent fired a rifle at an explosive target during a gender-reveal party in a Green Valley, Arizona sparking a massive wildfire that burned more that 45,000 acres.

The explosive target was supposed to release either a blue or pink powder indicating the gender of a child. Agent Dennis Dickey fired the shot striking tannerite in the target causing it to explode. Tall dry grass adjacent to the target immediately ignited, starting the Sawmill Fire.

The April, 2017 incident was captured on video and turned over to investigators who charged Dickey with starting a fire without a permit. His cooperation with the investigation and his willingness to accept responsibility for what occurred contributed to the choice of a misdemeanor charge. Dickey pled guilty, accepted 5 years of probation, and agreed to pay restitution of $8 million.  While more of a theoretical restitution given a Border Patrol Agent’s salary, Dickey agreed to make an initial payment of $100,000, and $500 a month for the next 20 years, for a total fine of $220,000.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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