A California fire sparked during a gender reveal party has burned more than 10,000 acres since Saturday. As of Tuesday morning, the El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County is currently 16% contained.
“In my 30 years as a citizen in Yucaipa, I have never seen such a large fire,” Yucaipa Mayor David Avila said during a news conference on Monday. “As a retired firefighter with 32 years of experience, I can assure you I witnessed one of the most dangerous fires that we can have in this area.”
In a press release, investigators announced that a gender reveal party, which used a “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device,” caused the fire. The exact device wasn’t specified, but Buzzfeed News reports that it is believed to have either emitted colored smoke or fireworks to reveal the baby’s sex.
Gender Reveal Party Gone Wrong
While officials haven’t released surveillance footage of the incident due to ongoing investigations, they described the recording to CNN. In it, a couple and several children can be seen walking into the grass while another person appears to light a device, CalFire investigator Captain Bennet Milloy told CNN.
As the device ignites, the family could be seen “scrambling” and grabbing water bottles to try to stop the growing fire. Milloy said everyone involved is cooperating with investigators.
Investigators have identified at least three law violations, including “igniting the land” and arson, CNN reports. The level of recklessness will determine whether charges are filed as misdemeanors or felonies, and penalties would vary.
If the case is pursued, the person who lit the pyrotechnic device is the person who is charged. Milloy told Buzzfeed News that no arrests have been made.
A History of Problematic Reveal Parties
Unfortunately, the El Dorado Fire is hardly the first tragedy to stem from a gender reveal party.
In 2017, a gender reveal in Arizona sparked a 47,000-acre wildfire after the father shot a highly-explosive Tannerite target. The mishap caused more than $8 million in damages. The father was charged with misdemeanor violation of US Forest Service regulations.
The gender reveal trend was popularized by Jenna Karvundis in 2008, who has since denounced the trend. While she criticized the extreme reveals that often make headlines — shooting guns and igniting forest fires — she also explained the trend places too much emphasis on gender.
“Who cares what gender the baby is?” Karvundis wrote on Facebook. “I did at the time because we didn’t live in 2019 and didn’t know what we know now — that assigning focus on gender at birth leaves out so much of their potential and talents that have nothing to do with what’s between their legs.”