Border Patrol Agent Must Pay $220G After Gender-Reveal Starts Massive Arizona Wildfire
An off-duty Border Patrol agent who admitted accidentally starting a massive wildfire during a gender-reveal party must pay $220,000 in restitution, a federal judge ruled.
Dennis Dickey pleaded guilty Friday to a misdemeanor charge of causing a fire without a permit. Nearly 800 firefighters battled the 47,000-acre wildfire for about a week last year.
The Arizona blaze, which came to be known as the Sawmill Fire, started when Dickey shot a high-velocity firearm at target containing Tannerite, an explosive substance that was supposed send colored powder into the air, thereby declaring his baby’s sex.
Instead, the explosive started a wildfire. Dickey summoned authorities, but the fire quickly grew out of control, fed by dried ground cover and dry conditions.
Cost of battling the fire totaled about $8.2 million, authorities said.
Under his plea agreement, Dickey will pay $100,000 from his retirement fund and the remaining amount in monthly payments of $500 for the next 200 years. He also will ordered to serve five years probation when he is sentenced on Oct. 9, authorities said.
“It was a complete accident,” Dickey, 37, told U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie A. Bowman in court Friday. “I feel absolutely horrible about it. It was probably one of the worst days of my life,” the Arizona Daily Star reported.