The video shows an explosive-laden package standing in a dry, grassy field, with the words “boy” and “girl” painted on it. A gunshot is heard a few seconds into the video, triggering the explosive. The package erupts in a ball of fire and a brief cloud of blue powder, indicating that the child will be a boy. The grass around the explosive package can be seen burning at the end of the video.
The flames turned into what became known as the Sawmill Fire, a blaze that torched approximately 182 square kilometres of land and caused an estimated US$8 million in damage near Green Valley, Arizona, in April 2017.
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Dennis Dickey, 37, of Tucson, pleaded guilty in September to a misdemeanour charge in connection with the fire. The off-duty border patrol agent said he was trying to surprise his family with the gender of his wife’s unborn child.
“Dickey had placed Tannerite, a highly explosive substance, inside the target, intending for it to detonate when shot by a high-velocity firearm bullet,” the Department of Justice said in a statement in September. “Dickey immediately reported the fire to law enforcement, co-operated, and admitted that he started the fire.”
Dickey must serve five years’ probation and make a public announcement about the cause of the fire, under the conditions of his plea agreement. He was also ordered to pay $8,188,069 as restitution for the damage he caused to state and federal lands.
He agreed to pay $100,000 immediately and will make monthly payments going forward.
—With files from the Associated Press