A "smoke generating pyrotechnic device" used at a gender reveal party sparked a California wildfire that has burned more than 7,000 acres of land in San Bernardino County, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).
The blaze is one of more than 20 major fires currently burning across California as the state experiences recording-breaking high temperatures, reported NBC News.
"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 agency said in a press release put out Sunday.
As Cal Fire's report detailed, the El Dorado Fire was first sparked Saturday in Yucaipa's El Dorado Ranch Park at 10:23 a.m. From there the fire spread north to Yucaipa Ridge. As of Monday morning, the fire had burned 7,386 acres and was just 7% contained. Evacuation orders had been put in place for residents of Oak Glen, Yucaipa Ridge, Mountain Home Village, and Forest Falls while evacuation warnings had been issued for communities in the Yucaipa bench area.
"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 its press release. "Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible."
Although typically not illegal, headlines in recent years have shown that gender reveals can be dangerous and even deadly depending on how elaborate of a reveal expectant parents plan. While some parents opt for simple tricks like cutting into a colored cake or opening a box to release colored balloons, dramatic reveals that depend on explosives, colored-smoke bombs, or even live animals have lead to serious injuries, deaths, and yes, fires.
In October 2019, the Marion County Sheriff's Office reported the death of a 56-year-old woman had been linked to an explosion at a gender reveal party. As The Des Moines Register reported, an investigation into the death revealed the family had effectively created a pipe bomb by pouring gunpowder into a homemade stand welded to a metal base and fixed with a fuse, a piece of wood, and colored powder.
What's more, the El Dorado Fire isn't the first wildfire to be sparked by a gender reveal gone wrong. In April 2017, a gender reveal carried out in Arizona sparked a wildfire that burned more than 47,000 acres in total and resulted in roughly $8 million worth of damages. In video of the reveal obtained by CNN, an expectant dad can be seen firing a high-powered rifle at a makeshift target, which exploded upon impact and caught the dry grass around it on fire. That dad was later sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay back all damages, Forbes has reported.
So far, Cal Fire has not announced any charges filed in relation to the El Dorado Fire nor has the agency revealed any information about who may have been behind the gender reveal trick that sparked the blaze.