More than 500 firefighters, 60 fire engines, and four helicopters have been deployed to a massive fire in Southern California. The huge inferno, dubbed the El Dorado Fire, was caused by a pyrotechnic device used at a gender-reveal party.
The gender-reveal party was held in El Dorado Ranch Park, and the fire began at 10:23 a.m. Saturday. The couple, and possibly some other friends and family, went to a grassy field at El Dorado Ranch Park, to announce the gender of their baby, Cal Fire Capt. Bennett Milloy told KTVU. They used a cylindrical device to send up either pink or blue smoke, and reveal the sex, he said. But the spectacle created a fire, which the couple tried to douse with their own water bottles, he said.
The blaze quickly spread from the park to Yucaipa Ridge, which separates Mountain Home Village, and Forest Falls from Yucaipa. As of Monday morning, the massive inferno had burned 7,386 acres and was only 7% was contained, according to San Bernardino County Fire Protection District.
“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 stated.
“Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially responsible and criminally responsible,” Cal Fire said.
Four towns in San Bernardino County — Oak Glen, Yucaipa Ridge, Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls — were under evacuation orders because of the El Dorado Fire. About 21,000 residents have been evacuated. Several homes have been destroyed, according to KCAL-TV.
The El Dorado Fire is one of three major wildfires currently smoldering in California, along with the Creek Fire and Valley Fire.
The state has recently become a tinderbox because of extremely high temperatures into the 100s, extremely dry conditions, and fast winds that can spread fires quickly.
“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.
Creek Fire in Fresno County and Madera County has charred 73,278 acres, and threatens more communities as well as recreation areas like Shaver and Bass lakes, and Yosemite National Park. The fire has destroyed 25 homes, and at least 850 structures are seriously threatened. Cal Fire said that 0% of the blaze was contained.
The Valley Fire prompted the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department to issue a voluntary evacuation order. The wildfire has burned 10,258 acres and is only 1% contained. The San Diego County Fire Department requested military aircraft from the Navy Third Fleet and the First Marine Expeditionary Force to battle the blaze.
Due to the wildfires, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) declared a state of emergency for five counties on Sunday: Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, San Bernardino, and San Diego County.
“Governor Newsom has declared a statewide emergency due to the widespread fires and extreme weather conditions, and secured a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to bolster the state’s emergency response to the Northern California wildfires,” the governor’s office said in a statement.