Video: Sawmill Fire Erupts Following Target Explosion (Redacted)

Contact(s): Region 3 Press Office

This video released by the USDA Forest Service on November 27, 2018, shows the moment the Sawmill Fire was ignited on April 23, 2017. The blaze began after Dennis Dickey, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor violation of Forest Service regulations, shot a target that contained Tannerite during a gender reveal party.

Sparks from the explosives landed in surrounding dry grass, igniting the area almost instantaneously. The fire eventually spread to the Coronado National Forest. The blaze caused damage more than 45,000 acres of land managed by the Forest Service, the State of Arizona, the Bureau of Land Management, and various private landholders. Officials estimate total losses to be over $8 million.

In his plea agreement, Dickey agreed to a sentence of five years’ probation. Additionally, Dickey must make a public service announcement with the Forest Service about the cause of the Sawmill Fire.

This serves to demonstrate the volatile conditions which can be present across the forest during any time of the year, and how quickly a wildfire can be ignited from any spark introduced to receptive fuel.