A gender-reveal party was the source of a California wildfire that is currently burning out of control, officials say.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known more commonly as Cal Fire, said Monday that a fire was sparked on Saturday morning by a "smoke generating pyrotechnic device" used during a gender reveal party in San Bernadino County.
That fire, now referred to as the El Dorado Fire, has grown to around 7,386 hectares and is only around seven per cent contained. Cal Fire says some 54,000 people have been forced to evacuate as a result.
"Cal Fire reminds the public that with the dry conditions and critical fire weather it doesn't take much to start a wildfire," the agency said in a statement. "Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible."
CAL FIRE Law Enforcement has determined the El Dorado Fire, burning near Oak Glen in San Bernardino County, was caused by a smoke generating pyrotechnic device, used during a gender reveal party. The fire began at… https://t.co/w62ZRuBdNJ— CAL FIRE BDU (@CALFIREBDU) September 7, 2020
It's not the first time a gender reveal party has been responsible for sparking a blaze. In 2017, another such stunt went wrong and resulted in a wildfire that burned almost 20,000 hectares and caused $8 million in damage. The following year, the person responsible was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay for the damage, starting with an initial $100,000 payment and monthly payments thereafter.
California is once again facing dry conditions and extreme heat, perfect conditions for wildfires. Los Angeles hit 49.4°C this weekend, a new record for the city, and this year's wildfires have torched 800,000 hectares of land, the most on record.