On Saturday morning, September 5 in El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa, CA, a family gathered for a gender reveal party. When their smoke-generating pyrotechnic device went off, it didn’t just show boy or girl — it started a massive wildfire.
California Department of Forestry and Fire Prevention (CalFire) spokesman Bennet Milloy reported that the family was on the scene when firefighters arrived. “We know how it started because they were still there,” he said. “That, and the fact that there were surveillance cameras in the park.” Everyone involved cooperated with investigators, Milloy said.
The family was on the scene when firefighters arrived, and there were surveillance cameras in the park.
While the surveillance video hasn’t been released because the investigation is ongoing, Milloy summarized the content: it shows a couple with several children walking into the grass while another person appears to light a device. After it ignites, the family is seen scrambling and grabbing water bottles to try to douse the growing fire.
The Resulting El Dorado Wildfire
CNN reports that “the El Dorado Fire in Southern California's San Bernardino County has scorched 10,574 acres and was 16% contained as of Tuesday morning, according to fire officials, who say it's ‘one of the most dangerous fires’ they've seen in the area.”
CBS Los Angeles reports that the wildfire has forced the evacuations of 3,000 residents.
The Consequences for the Responsible Party
Milloy told the Daily Mail that the family is “potentially both civilly and criminally responsible for the fire - facing jail time and a massive fine.” They could be held responsible for the entire cost of putting the fire out (the charges associated with hundreds of firefighters, fire-engines, helicopters, and planes), “amounting to many millions of dollars.”
Fire investigators have identified at least three laws that were violated.
CNN reports that “Fire investigators have identified at least three laws that were violated, including "igniting the land" and arson. The level of recklessness will determine whether those are filed as misdemeanors or felonies.” Milloy explained that it’s most likely “the person who ignited the pyrotechnic would be the person charged.”
Milloy commented on the family’s perspective of the consequences of their gender reveal party: “They understood the seriousness of the fire. They genuinely believed it was an accident. But I think now they understand the gravity of the situation.”
Gender Reveal Party Blogger Stays Stop
Blogger Jenna Karvunidis, who is acknowledged as the creator of gender reveal parties, has condemned “over-the-top events.”
"Stop having these stupid parties. For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid's penis. No one cares but you," she wrote on Facebook.
This Wasn’t the First Wildfire Caused by a Gender Reveal
Unbelievably, this isn’t the first time a gender reveal party has caused a wildfire. According to CNN, “In 2017, an off-duty US Border Patrol agent shot a high powered rifle at a target packed with an explosive as part of a gender reveal, igniting a fire in Arizona that grew to nearly 47,000 acres and caused more than $8 million in damage. He pleaded guilty in 2018 to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to five years' probation and ordered to pay almost $8.2 million in restitution.”
A little more common sense and situational awareness would have gone a very, very long way to prevent this all-around unfortunate situation.