A “smoke generating pyrotechnic device” used at a family’s gender reveal party on Saturday is the source of the El Dorado Fire raging across San Bernardino County.
The fire started at the El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa on Saturday morning and spread north to Yucaipa Ridge, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
This latest fire comes as California is in the midst of an unprecedented heat wave, with temperatures reaching 121 degrees over the weekend.
So far, the El Dorado Fire has burned over 7,000 acres of land and has forced more than 3,000 residents to evacuate from their homes.
Oak Glen, Yucaipa Ridge, Mountain Home Village, and Forest Falls are still under evacuation, and only 7% of the fire remains contained.
The pyrotechnic device used at the gender reveal party was supposed to emit either blue or pink smoke to signify the assigned sex of the family’s unborn child. The machine backfired, however, and started a massive wildfire instead.
As a result, the family in question could be held criminally or financially responsible for their negligence.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time a gender reveal party has caused extensive damage to the environment and threatened lives in the process.
In April 2017, an explosion at a gender reveal party in Arizona sparked a wildfire that ravaged 47,000 acres of land and caused $8.2 million in damage.
The source of the fire was a practice target with the words “boy” and “girl” written on it. Upon being fired at, the target exploded in a cloud of blue smoke and set fire to the desert near Green Valley, Arizona.
While the bizarre need for many expectant couples to throw gender reveal parties needs to be unpacked, there is also a way to do so without the use of explosives. Popping confetti balloons or cutting into a pink or blue cake are some safe, albeit regressive, examples.
Since gender reveal parties have become more commonplace and extreme in recent years, even Jenna Karvunidis, the woman who helped popularize them, has expressed regret for her “contribution to the culture.”
“Gender reveal parties are canceled. I cringe when I see them now. The insane levels people are taking them just to celebrate one of the most mundane facts about their child is just bizarre,” she said in an interview last year.
“People are burning down forests and blowing up cars to shout what is essentially a very boring detail. Who cares what gender the baby is?”
With multiple wildfires currently raging across California, one can only hope that the El Dorado Fire is the last gender reveal related wildfire of the season.