Explosive target at gender reveal party turns into 10-acre wildfire

Sawmill Fire
File photo of the Sawmill Fire in Arizona, early in the morning on April 24, 2017. It was caused by an exploding target. Photo by Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.

From CNN, April 4, 2020:

A gender reveal party in Florida went wrong and sparked a 10-acre fire, CNN affiliate WESH reported. Firefighters were called to a home in Brevard County, Florida, last weekend after reports that a blaze was possibly ignited by fireworks, fire officials said. But when they arrived, firefighters realized some explosives had been in the mix.

“We were informed that it was caused by a gender reveal using Tannerite and a weapon,” Brevard County Fire Rescue Chief Mark Schollmeyer told WESH. Tannerite is a highly explosive substance often used as a rifle target.

The county had been under a burn ban, including outdoor activities such as campfires, bonfires and trash burning, because of the dry conditions in the region. The order comes with a fine of up to $500. It’s unclear whether anyone faced a fine.

A gender reveal party in Arizona in 2017 ignited the 46,000-acre Sawmill Fire when an off-duty Border Patrol agent shot a Tannerite explosive target. The agent pleaded guilty and was ordered to make an initial payment of $100,000, then make monthly payments after that. According to the Arizona Daily Star and the Green Valley News, he agreed in court to pay $500 a month for the next 20 years, which adds up to $120,000, for a total of $220,000. He was also sentenced to 5 years of probation and agreed to participate in a public service announcement with the U.S. Forest Service concerning the cause of the Sawmill fire.

Exploding targets consist of two ingredients that when mixed by the end user explode when shot by a high-velocity projectile.  After the ingredients are combined, the compound is illegal to transport and is classified as an explosive by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Exploding targets have caused many fires since they became more popular in recent years, have been banned in some areas, and caused the death of at least one person.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

2 thoughts on “Explosive target at gender reveal party turns into 10-acre wildfire”

  1. The labels “idiotic”, “moronic”, and “criminal stupidity” all come to mind with regards to tannerite fueled gender reveal stunts. Seriously, who really cares about the gender of someone’s kid aside from the parents? Even then, it’s not like the knowledge is going to change what you do with the baby once it’s born. Aside from signaling that the parents are somewhat deficient in common sense, that is.

    This is one social-media trend that needs to die and soon.

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