GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. — A new report details how a southern Arizona wildfire started and quickly spread after an off-duty Border Patrol agent went target shooting with an explosive powder.
The report by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department was released Monday. It states that a man identified as Dennis Dickey reported the fire and told a deputy that it began when he was target shooting with a commonly-used explosive powder.
The Border Patrol has said in the past that an off-duty agent was involved in the fire but on Tuesday declined to identify the agent by name because he was off-duty when the incident happened.
The fire started April 23 and burned over 70 square miles (190 square kilometers) of grass, brush and trees southeast of Green Valley. It started on state land, where target shooting is not allowed.
It’s unclear whether Dickey faces any charges. U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Heidi Schewel said an investigation in ongoing. Dickey’s attorney, Sean Chapman, has not responded to a request for comment. Chapman regularly represents Border Patrol agents.
Several people reported the fire. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department was among the first to respond.
Deputies who saw a fast-approaching fire evacuated nearby homes and blocked off roads. One deputy reported that a man disobeyed a fire chief’s orders to stay out of the area and then refused to stop when a deputy attempted to pull him over. That man eventually turned around.
The fire damaged nearly 19 square miles of the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, a grasslands conservancy. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced on Tuesday that it had reopened parts of the areas closed off because of the fire.
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