I know you’ve been wondering what on earth has been causing the outbreak of wildfires in 2018, a year that has set records not just in California (which has experienced the largest blaze on record) but also in Scandinavia, where in July a fire broke out for the first time north of the Arctic Circle.
President Trump visited California in the wake of this deadly fire season and offered neither solace nor sympathy, let alone any awareness of the role climate change may have played. Instead, he allowed as how one of the issues was California’s failure to “rake the forest floor.” Online this observation has been mocked as #RakeNews.
But I am here to tell you that at least one of the fires — the Sawmill Fire in Arizona, which burned 45,000 acres last spring — is the result of a much more complex problem: gender reveal parties.
Back on April 23, 2017, a man named Dennis Dickey and his wife, Rita, gathered their friends in the desert south of Tucson to unveil the sex of their forthcoming baby. The festivities included detonating an explosive called Tannerite that puffs blue or pink smoke. You know, the way one does. Mr. Dickey shot the explosive with a high-power rifle, and in short order there was a column of blue smoke rising in the Arizona desert.
Unfortunately, also rising in the desert were flickering flames from the dry brush that the Tannerite had likewise ignited. Thanks to a video released by the Forest Service last month, You can watch the whole thing unfold on YouTube. The video ends with someone shouting, “Start packing up! Start packing up!” The resulting fire raged for over six days and took more than 800 firefighting personnel to contain.
Mr. Dickey, who works as a Border Patrol agent, has described the day as “probably the worst of his life” and has been put on probation for five years. He has agreed to pay the state back over $8 million in damages for the Sawmill fire, starting with an initial down payment of $100,000. Because the fire was clearly an accident, Mr. Dickey hasn’t been charged with arson or lost his job with the Border Patrol. This, even though you’d have to think that one of the main ways of protecting the border would not be setting it aflame.
Still, all of this trouble could have been avoided if there was no such thing as a gender reveal party.
If, like me, you’ve been out of the loop, gender reveal parties are a thing, and by a thing, I mean a robustly advancing sector of the “party industry.” One retailer, Party City, sells a million gender reveal party items a year.