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BP agent pleads guilty for starting 47K fire in Santa Rita Mountains


TUCSON – The Border Patrol agent who admitted to starting the 47,000-acre blaze in the Santa Rita Mountains last spring pleaded guilty in connection to the blaze Friday.

Last May, preliminary reports from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department cited that Dennis Dickey accidentally started the Sawmill Fire after he reportedly shot an explosive compound known as Tannerite. The fire began April 23 and burned for more than a week. He was off-duty during the incident.

He was federally charged with causing a fire without a permit, a class B misdemeanor, according to court documents.

According to officials, Dickey’s plea agreement includes five years of probation and a restitution payment of $8,188,069. He will have an initial payment of $100,000, and monthly payments after. The fire caused more than $8 million in damage.

He has also agreed to conduct a public service announcement with the U.S. Forest Service about the cause of the fire.

His sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 9.

Noel Sederstrom

Noel Sederstrom

Noel Sederstrom joined the KTTC-TV staff as News Director in February, 2008. He's a native Minnesotan, having grown up on a farm near Litchfield, and also spending a lot of time on Lake Vermilion near Tower-Soudan, where his grandfather Gust Saari worked in the Soudan Underground Mine. After studying journalism at the University of Minnesota-Minneapolis, Noel worked as a reporter, anchor, producer and Executive Producer at television stations in Duluth, Little Rock, Buffalo, Louisville and Kalamazoo, Michigan. Noel was the News Director at WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo for seven of his 18 years at the CBS affiliate before returning to Minnesota. He and his wife Cindy have two grown children and make their home in Rochester. Email Noel at
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