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California fire caused by explosive at gender-reveal party

A plume of smoke from the El Dorado Fire is seen from the Interstate 10 in Loma Linda, California Photograph: Ringo HW Chiu/AP

California

El Dorado blaze which has burned 7,000-acres was caused by ‘smoke generating pyrotechnic device’, fire department says

Staff and agencies

A fire in California that has burned more than 7,000 acres was caused by a “pyrotechnic device used at a gender reveal party”, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has found.

In a statement released late on Sunday, the department said: “The fire began at 10:23 am on September 5, 2020 in the El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa,” before spreading north.

The agency said the fire was caused by a smoke generating pyrotechnic device, used during “a gender reveal party”. The fire started on Saturday morning.

“With the dry conditions and critical fire weather, it doesn’t take much to start a wildfire. Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible,” the statement said.

The fire has since destroyed 7,050 acres. It has prompted the evacuation of 3,000 residents, CBS reported.

Almost 12,500 firefighters are currently battling 22 major fires across the state, according to Cal Fire. Earlier on Sunday, Cal Fire said nearly 12,500 firefighters were battling 22 major fires in the state.

Gender reveal parties, at which expectant parents announce the genders of their soon-to-be-born infants, often feature elaborate ways of saying whether the baby is a boy or girl.

In July 2019, one of the pioneers of the gender-reveal movement said it was time to “re-evaluate” the practice and that her own daughter had begun to explore her gender and defy gender norms.

In April 2017, an off-duty US border patrol agent, Dennis Dickey, caused $8m of damage to 19,000 hectares (47,000 acres) of Arizona forest when he shot at a target full of blue-coloured explosive as a means of announcing the gender of his unborn child.

In October 2019, a woman was killed when a home-made device that was meant to discharge coloured powder exploded at a gender reveal party in Iowa.

California has been dealing with weeks-long wildfires and faced record-high temperatures over the Labor Day weekend. On Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles county, the temperature reached a record high of 121F (49 C), according to the National Weather Service.

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