A father to be reflects on the day he ignited a wildfire that cost authorities $8 million.
On a day intended for joy and celebration, Denis Dickey, inadvertently sparked a wildfire that torched, 47,000 acres of Arizona's parched grasslands.
Dickey and his family had planned an eventful gender reveal party at the Coronado National Forest, located in close proximity to Green Valley, Arizona. The Border Patrol agent had set up a target filled with colored powder that when hit, would reveal whether he and his partner were either expecting a boy or girl. In a mistake that proved to be ruinous, Dickey added Tannerite; a legal yet highly explosive substance. When Dickey fired his rifle, he sent sparks into the Arizona dry bushland causing it to be ablaze with flames.
Dickey unsuccessfully attempted to put out the fire on his own, then reached out to the authorities. Forest Service Special Agent Brent Robinson told the court that Dickey, "immediately reported the fire to law enforcement, cooperated, and admitted that he started the fire." According to a news release by the US Attorney's office, the fire ultimately forced dozens of residents to leave their homes and amassed $8 million in damages.
Dickey has accepted a plea agreement stating that he will have to pay $220,000 in restitution. He is expecting to pay $100,000 when he is sentenced on October 9, and the remainder in $500 monthly installments over the next 20 years. It is unclear whether Dickey will have to pay the $8 Million plus in restitution.
The Arizona Star reported that Dickey told the federal judge presiding over his case, "I feel absolutely horrible about [the fire]. It was probably one of the worst days of my life."