A shocking video, obtained by the Arizona Daily Star, shows the very moment that the deadly Sawmill Fire got started. The blaze was set off when Border Patrol Agent Dennis Dickey fired at an exploding target. Dickey and his wife were just looking for a dramatic way to announce the gender of their new baby — but the explosion touched off a fire which torched 47,000 acres and cost $8.2 million to put out. Around 800 fire fighters were involved in battling the blaze.
You can watch the start of the fire here, and you can read more about Dennis Dickey here.
The video clip is short. It shows a target set in the midst of dry, tall grass. Nothing happens for a few moments and then, suddenly, there’s the soft bang of a gun as Dickey fired at the target. Then there’s a gigantic explosion and, almost immediately, a fire starts to ripple through the dried grass. You can hear the fire crackle as it grows and spreads. A man’s voice yells, “start packing up! start packing up!”
Dickey and his wife had planned out a novel way to let their guests know the gender of their upcoming baby: Dickey was supposed to fire a rifle at a target which would emit either blue or pink powder: blue powder would indicate a boy, and pink would indicate a girl.
Dickey filled the target with Tannerite, a highly explosive substance which is legal but very powerful. When he shot at, and hit, the target, he caused an explosion which ultimately set off a massive forest fire. (The newly released video shows that the explosion was, in fact, blue — so apparently Dickey and his wife were expecting a boy.)
Dickey, 37, came forward right away to let authorities know that he had sparked the fire which burned 45,000 acres and caused $8 million worth of damage.