Out of a Gender Reveal Gone Wrong, a New Tragedy

Firefighter has died near Pinezanita, Calif., in blaze sparked by party
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2020 1:34 PM CDT
Firefighter Dies in Blaze Started by Gender Reveal Party
Firefighters rush up Highway 38 as the El Dorado Fire burns in heavy timber north of Angelus Oaks, Calif., on Thursday.   (Will Lester/The Orange County Register via AP)

On Thursday night, police and firefighters began searching for a missing elite "Hotshot" firefighter near Pinezanita, Calif., which has been engulfed in flames from a blaze started during a gender reveal party, reports KTLA. By Friday morning, sad news had emerged, per CNN. "USDA Forest Service officials on the San Bernardino National Forest have confirmed the death of a firefighter on the El Dorado Fire," a release reads, adding that the firefighter's identity is not being released until next of kin can be reached. The New York Times notes this is the 26th death thus far from the summer's California fire. This particular inferno was sparked by a "smoke-generating pyrotechnic device" at the Sept. 5 gender reveal gathering, and it has so far scorched more than 21,000 acres.

"Our deepest sympathies are with the family, friends, and fellow firefighters during this time," the USDA Forest Service says in a statement, adding it's investigating the incident. Meanwhile, upward of 5 million acres in California have burned—more than in the last two years before that combined. The family that threw the gender reveal party had tried in vain with water bottles to put out the fire they'd caused, Cal Fire's Capt. Bennet Milloy tells the Times. He adds that criminal charges may be possible after the fire is put out, and that the family may have to pay the fire agency back for the costs incurred in fighting the fire. "Personally, I can only imagine how terrible they have to feel for a lot of reasons," he says. (More California wildfires stories.)

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