We’ve seen a lot of dangerous gender-reveal stunts (shooting fireworks at partygoers, wrestling an alligator and skydiving), but perhaps none have been as damaging as one Arizona couple’s party that sparked a 47,000-acre wildfire in 2017 (yes, really). And thanks to the U.S. Forest Service, we now have the damning video footage of the exact moment off-duty Border Patrol agent Dennis Dickey and his wife started the costly Sawmill Fire in the Coronado National Forest near Tucson, Arizona.
The short clip, released earlier this week, shows a black target sitting in the middle of a field with the words “Boy” and “Girl” written on the outside. After a few moments, Dickey fires a rifle and hits the box, which he had filled with blue powder and the explosive substance Tannerite. The joy the parents-to-be and their loved ones felt was quickly replaced by fear when the surrounding grasslands burst into flames.
Over the next two weeks, the fire spread throughout the forest, forcing people out of their homes and causing more than $8 million in damages, according to BuzzFeed. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured or killed as a result of the blaze.
A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated that Dickey has since pleaded guilty to starting the fire and will serve probation for five years. Additionally, he has paid a $100,000 fine and will continue to make payments of $500 a month over the next two decades to make a total of $220,000, making this the most expensive gender-reveal party (probably) in history. According to NPR, it’s not yet clear if Dickey is expected to pay the full $8 million throughout his lifetime.
Dickey told the court that while the devastating eruption “was a complete accident,” he takes full responsibility for the fire. “I feel absolutely horrible about it,” he said, according to the Arizona Daily Star. “It was probably one of the worst days of my life.”
Gender-reveal parties have become increasingly popular over the past 10 years, with excited parents busting out pinks and blues to announce their baby’s sex (sorry, folks, but gender is a social construct intended to keep people in boxes). While the trend isn’t for everyone (this writer included), it doesn’t show signs of dying down anytime soon. But hopefully, this horrific story of a gender-reveal shootout gone completely wrong will serve as a cautionary tale for ages to come: Explosives and forests don’t mix. Maybe just stick to cupcakes and balloons?