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Gender Reveal Party Causes Forest Fires to Spread Across California

A fire caused by fireworks during a gender reveal party has burned more than 10,000 acres of forest since Saturday 5th of September.

The fire in Southern California’s San Bernadino County has burnt through 10,574 acres of land as of Tuesday the 8th of September. Officials say it's "one of the most dangerous fires" they've ever seen in the area.

The fire was caused by a "smoke-generating pyrotechnic device" used at a party on Saturday morning in El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles.

Many people have had to evacuate their homes to stay safe from the fire. About 87 large wildfires are burning across the United States. The state of California has been hit the hardest by these fires.

"In my 30 years as a citizen in Yucaipa, I have never seen such a large fire," Yucaipa Mayor David Avila said during conference on Monday the 7th September. "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."

Surveillance video reviewed by investigators showed a couple with several children walking into the grass while another person appears to light a device. After it ignites, the family is seen scrambling and grabbing water bottles to try to douse the growing fire.

Fire officials have refused to release the video, saying the investigation is ongoing. Fire investigators have identified at least three laws that were violated, including "igniting the land" and arson. The level of recklessness will determine whether those are filed as misdemeanours or felonies. If the district attorney pursues the case, the person who ignited the pyrotechnic would be the person charged.

It's not the first time a gender reveal has started a fire. In 2017, a person shot a rifle at a target packed with an explosive as part of a gender reveal, which started a fire in Arizona that grew to nearly 47,000 acres and caused more than $8 million in damage.

He pleaded guilty in 2018 to a misdemeanour and was sentenced to five years' probation and ordered to pay almost $8.2 million in restitution.

Key Terms

  1. Gender reveal party

  2. Wildfire

  3. Pyrotechnic

  4. Evacuate

  5. Damage

  6. Restitution

  7. Probation

Key Questions

  1. What is a Gender Reveal party?

  2. What is the global environmental impact of these fires?

  3. How should the people responsible pay for their mistake?

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