Gender reveal parties are meant to be a fun way for a couple to announce to their friends and family the biological sex of their unborn child. They are not meant to cause mass destruction of the natural landscape and force hundreds of people to evacuate their homes. This wildfire, or “gender reveal wildfire”, did just that.
The Gender Reveal Wildfire that Decimated 7,000 Acres of Forest
In California, wildfire season is no joke. Wildfires happen frequently in the state and are becoming increasingly difficult to control as global warming rapidly changes the climate in this area. (1)
In El Dorado, the wildfire season is in full swing, meaning that residents have to be extra careful to avoid potentially fire-causing activities. For this family’s gender reveal party at El Dorado Ranch Park, a pyrotechnic device used to make the announcement ended up sparking a forest fire that destroyed over 7,000 acres of land. (1)
A Criminal Offense
The family was still there when the firefighters arrived on the scene, and security footage from the park shows how the fire began. Their accident pushed the Governor to announce a state of emergency, and now the family could potentially be held criminally responsible for it. (1)
“The fire began at 10:23 am on September 5, 2020, in the El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa,” before spreading north, read a statement by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “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,” (1)
Due to their mistake, the family could face (1):
- Millions of dollars in fines (the cost of putting out the fire)
- Up to nine years in prison for arson
This is not what you want to be going through right before you are bringing a new child into the world. A spokesperson for CalFire Bennet Milloy says he knows they didn’t intend to cause this, however, the situation is very serious and people need to be held accountable for their negligence. (1)
“They genuinely believed it was an accident but I think now they understand the gravity of the situation,” he said. “We need to keep the firefighters we do have focused on firefighting and not on managing people,” (1)
Not the First Gender Reveal Wildfire
This trend of throwing parties to reveal whether a couple is having a boy or a girl has been around since 2008. (1) Often, these parties involve shooting confetti or other substances out of a cannon of sorts that is either blue or pink, revealing the sex of the baby.
In 2017, Dennis Dickey caused $8 million worth of damage to 47,000 acres of forest in Arizona when a fire broke out after he shot at a target containing blue-colored explosives to reveal the sex of his baby. The target was placed in tall, dry grass. (2)
Dickey had to pay $220,000 in restitution for the fire he caused. (2) It was broken down as follows (2):
- An initial payment of $100,000
- $500 per month for the next 20 years
The repercussions for this California family, who have not yet been identified, are still to be determined.
Extra Caution During Wildfire Season
CalFire has issued a warning for the next few days for the public to be extra careful to avoid the trouble this family now finds themselves in. The coming days are high-risk for fires for several reasons (1):
- Dry vegetation
- Steep terrain
- Hot weather
These conditions make fires catch easily, spread quickly, and are extremely difficult to be extinguished. (1)
“CAL FIRE reminds the public that with the dry conditions and critical fire weather, it doesn’t take much to start a wildfire,” read a press release by the agency. “Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially responsible and criminally responsible.” (1)
If you live in an area prone to fires, follow the warning systems carefully and refrain from using fireworks and explosives, having bonfires, or even smoking in these places. Dispose of flammables such as cigarettes safely and appropriately.