Ongoing Forest Fire Sparked by Gender Reveal

Karyna Hetman

Baby blue balloons, delicate pink streamers, and cakes filled with a surprise color inside are all commonplace at a gender reveal party. The ignition of a forest fire that spreads across the west coast like falling dominoes, however, is not so typical. In El Dorado Ranch Park in Southern California on Saturday, September 6, a family accidentally sparked a fire during a gender reveal celebration. According to recent statistics from ABC 7 News, the fire has scorched 16,490 acres and was at a 53% containment as of Monday.

Yucaipa Mayor David Avilia quotes in a news conference on Monday “In my 30 years as a citizen in Yucaipa, I have never seen such a large fire. As a retired firefighter with 32 years of experience, I can assure you I witnessed one of the most dangerous fires that we can have in this area.” California and neighboring states have sent out various evacuation orders as approximately 87 wildfires burn simultaneously in the U.S. Many have lost homes and communities and remaining wildlife is at stake. As California’s warm climate has always made it a hot spot, quite literally, for fires, the lack of precipitation during these times has inclined the danger of the situation. 

Air quality in the areas affected by the wildfires have been a concern, as well. The CDC defines wildfire smoke as “a mix of gases and fine particles from burning trees and plants, buildings, and other material” that “can make anyone sick”. In addition to this the sky in the Bay Area turned an apocalyptic red/orange. NASA states this is a result of the smoke particles that block some wavelength colors from the sun. 

The culprit of this ongoing tragedy is a smoke generating pyrotechnic device that was used during the family in question’s gender reveal photo shoot. Wikipedia defines pyrotechnics as “the science and craft of using self-sustained exothermic chemical reactions to make heat, light, gas, smoke and/or sound”. Pyrotechnics require responsibility and safe handling, as one example of this craft is commercial fireworks. In this particular scenario, the family used a pyroclastic made to produce an explosion of colored smoke, which would unravel the mystery of the soon to be baby’s gender. 

Surveillance from El Dorado Ranch Park shows the family scrambling to get water bottles at an attempt to douse the fire after the device was ignited. According to CNN, the park refused to let out the surveillance video due to the investigation that is still under work. The suspect, when found, will be charged with what fire investigators declared arson and “lighting the land”. The investigation is directed toward the individual of the party who ignited the device, and the level of recklessness will determine whether this case will be ruled a felony or misdemeanor.

Research and action plans to completely contain the wildfires are still underway, as is the investigation on the individual who holds the blame for yet another tragedy of 2020. Who would have thought a gender reveal party would be the next strike of fear across America?