Gender reveal party sparks fast-growing California wildfire

Fire

YUCAIPA, Calif. (NewsNation Now) — A fast-growing wildfire east of San Bernardino was caused by an explosive used during a gender reveal party, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. As of Sunday night, the fire had burned more than 7,000 acres.

NewsNation affiliate KTLA-TV reports the fire started at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa on Saturday morning, when a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device at the party sparked the flames. The wildfire broke out around 10:20 a.m. (PT), spreading to areas further north and triggering mandatory evacuations, officials said.

Dubbed the El Dorado Fire, it more than doubled in size Sunday as firefighters grappled with challenging weather conditions of extreme heat and low humidity.

“I’ve been watching this fire the last two days, watching it grow,” said Deborah Reynolds, who lives in Yucaipa. “I never thought it would come as far as it did, and all of a sudden, it was leaping towards my home.”

“The fireman was knocking on the door for me to get out. I had to leave my cats. I grabbed water and my purse and I went,” Reynolds said. She waited in a parking lot and prayed for the best.

The wildfire burned about 3,010 acres and was 5% contained by Sunday afternoon, Cal Fire officials said. At 7 p.m. (PT), San Bernardino National Forest officials estimated it was about 7,050 acres while remaining at a containment of just 5%.

“Today’s weather is a concern as it’s predicted to be the hottest day of the heat wave,” officials with the San Bernardino National Forest said Sunday morning. “The vegetation is also extremely dry.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in San Bernardino County due to the wildfire and secured federal assistance to fight fires burning in other parts of the state.

This isn’t the first gender reveal to spark a wildfire. In April 2017, U.S. Forest Service officials said a gender reveal event sparked the 47,000-acre Sawmill Fire in the Santa Rita Mountain’s foothills, more than 40 miles southeast of Tucson, Arizona.

Gender reveal parties with a blast of color, pink or blue, that were once considered private gatherings have become social media spectacles, sometimes with dangerous consequences.

That blaze began after Dennis Dickey, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, shot a target that contained Tannerite during a gender reveal party.

The damages totaled more than $8 million.

In his plea agreement, Dickey agreed to a sentence of five years probation. Additionally, Dickey must make a public service announcement with the U.S. Forest Service about the cause of the Sawmill Fire.

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