Finding out the gender of his new baby was supposed to be one of the most exciting days of Dennis Dickey’s life – it quickly turned out to be “one of the worst.”

It’s a boy! It’s a girl! But for an off-duty border patrol officer in the US state of Arizona, it ended up being a massive wildfire sparked by a gender reveal party that went awry.

A video released by the US Forest Service and carried by US media on Wednesday, shows the moment a makeshift target with the words “Boy” and “Girl” written on it explodes in an open field, revealing a plume of blue smoke and sparking a fire.

The April 2017 blaze, dubbed the Sawmill Fire, scorched nearly 47,000 acres in Green Valley, Arizona, and was fully extinguished after about a week.

Dennis Dickey, who organized the party to reveal the gender of his upcoming child, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanour charge in September and was ordered to pay nearly $8.2 million in restitution.

He was also sentenced to five years’ probation.

Authorities said Dickey started the fire by shooting at the target that he had filled with Tannerite, a highly explosive substance.

The idea was to release blue or pink smoke to reveal the sex of his upcoming baby.

Such gender reveal parties are increasingly popular in the United States and can take on many forms, including unravelling a banner, cutting open a cake or tainting drinks in blue or pink.

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