Updated: September 9, 2020 4:16:45 pm
A massive wildfire in California, which has razed more than 10,000 acres since it broke out on Saturday, was sparked by a pyrotechnic device used during a gender-reveal party, officials have said. Mass evacuations were ordered in the area after firefighters were able to contain about 16 per cent of the blaze by Tuesday, CNN reported.
Surveillance footage of the incident shows a group of people, including several children, gathered at the El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa. The party was allegedly organised by a couple expecting a baby to reveal the sex of their child to their friends and family.
A guest is seen igniting the “smoke-generating” firework, which ultimately triggered the huge wildfires in Southern California’s San Bernardino County. The video then goes on to show several other people rushing to douse the flames using water bottles.
No injuries or structural damage have been recorded so far, the New York Times reported. Local authorities have said that they will wait until the fire is extinguished before deciding whether to press charges against the organisers of the gender-reveal party. They may be asked to cover the costs incurred in trying to contain the fire.
“It really is a tragedy, it’s sad. They were hoping to remember the day in a different way,” CalFire investigator Capt. Bennet Milloy told CNN. According to Milloy, over 80 per cent of fires are caused by human activity. “You need to be extra cautious because you could be liable,” he pointed out.
The El Dorado Ranch Park is frequented by residents from around the area during the fall season as it provides a beautiful backdrop for photographs, Milloy told CNN. However, the tall grass in the park is also more likely to catch fire as it is particularly dry in these months, he added.
The El Dorado fire is one of many wildfires that continue to burn across much of the US’ west coast, which has been experiencing an intense heat wave in recent weeks. In California alone, the fires are believed to have torched more than two million acres of land, according to a report by AFP.
WATCH VIDEO: This footage from US Forest Service shows the explosion at a gender-reveal party in 2017 that led to the Sawmill wildfire in Arizona.
“In my 30 years as a citizen in Yucaipa, I have never seen such a large fire,” Yucaipa Mayor David Avila said during a press briefing on Monday. “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.”
Gender-reveal parties have become increasingly popular in the last decade as a way for new parents to celebrate the news of their child with their close friends and family.
Generally, the sex of the child is revealed by cutting open pink or blue cakes, or even popping a balloon containing coloured confetti. Some couples, including the organisers of the party in El Dorado Ranch Park, ignite fireworks, which release pink or blue smoke depending on the sex of the baby. These parties have also become the subject of fierce debate and condemnation due to the growing number of accidents that inadvertently occur.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.