A hand crew works a fire break as they establish a hose line along a ridge during the El Dorado Fire along Highway 38 west of Forest Falls, Calif., Thursday afternoon, Sept. 10, 2020, as a hand crew establishes a hose line along a ridge. The fire was started by a device at a gender reveal party Sat., Sept. 5. (Will Lester/The Orange County Register/SCNG via AP)

Firefighter dies battling wildfire sparked by gender reveal

A Cal Fire statement said it was the 26th death involving wildfires besieging the state

A firefighter died battling a wildfire in California that officials said was sparked by a device used to reveal a baby’s gender.

The death happened Thursday in the San Bernardino National Forest as crews battled the El Dorado Fire, the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement.

The fire erupted earlier this month from a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device used by a couple to reveal their baby’s gender, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, said.

The name of the firefighter was being withheld until family members are notified. The cause of the death was under investigation.

“Our deepest sympathies are with the family, friends and fellow firefighters during this time,” Forest Service spokesperson Zach Behrens said in the statement.

No other information was released about the firefighter, the agency the firefighter worked for or the circumstances of the firefighter’s death. Behrens said in a telephone interview he could not comment beyond details in the statement

A Cal Fire statement said it was the 26th death involving wildfires besieging the state.

Cal Fire said earlier this month that the fire was ignited Sept. 5 when a couple, their young children and someone there to record video staged the baby gender reveal at El Dorado Ranch Park at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains.

The device was set off in a field and quickly ignited dry grass. The couple frantically tried to use bottled water to extinguish the flames and called 911.

Authorities have not released the identities of the couple, who could face criminal charges and be held liable for the cost of fighting the fire.

Shortly after the fire began, San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson issued a statement saying he was aware of the community’s concerns about how the fire started.

“If investigative reports are filed with our office, we will review all facts, evidence, statements, and reports to determine what criminal charges, if any, need to be filed,” Anderson said.

In 2017, a massive Arizona wildfire was accidentally started by an off-duty Border Patrol agent who shot a target filled with an explosive blue powder at a gender reveal. The fire burned 73 square miles (189 square kilometres) and caused $8 million in damage, The agent was charged with a misdemeanour and sentenced to probation.

The El Dorado Fire has burned more than 33 square miles (85.4 square kilometres) and was about 66% contained, according to Cal Fire. The fire has destroyed 10 buildings and damaged six others.

Milder weather was helping more than 18,500 firefighters battling more than two dozen major wildfires in California, Cal Fire said.

More than 7,900 wildfires have burned more than 5,300 square miles (13,727 square kilometres) this year, including many since a mid-August barrage of dry lightning ignited parched vegetation.

John Antczak, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Wildfires

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

Jennifer Rice BC NDP North Coast Incumbent was re-elected for a third according to the preliminary results on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Jennifer Rice is North Coast MLA for third term

Preliminary election results show NDP Majority government

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

CBSA. (Black Press Media File)
4 sentenced in B.C. steroid smuggling, distribution ring that spilled into U.S.

Canadian Border Services Agency announced the results of a lengthy investigation it called ‘Project Trajectory’

Most Read