YUCAIPA – A fire that originated in El Dorado Ranch Park in the foothills of the San Bernardino mountains Sunday was caused by smoke-generating pyrotechnic device used in a ‘gender-reveal’ party according to a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokesperson. The blaze which moved rapidly up the Yucaipa Ridge into the San Bernardino National Forest has already spread across nearly 8,000 acres.
Residents of several communities in the area were ordered to evacuate.
The El Dorado fire is now yet another of more than two dozen wildfires currently raging in California which within the last month alone have been burned more than 1.5 million acres in California by upward of 900 wildfires. Complicating the efforts of the firefighting crews are the extraordinarily historic high heat temps in the region.
Gender Reveal parties in recent years have been the cause of other wildfire incidents. Dennis Dickey, 37, of Tucson, Arizona, pleaded guilty to causing the Sawmill Fire, which torched swaths of Coronado National Forest in April of 2017 that caused more than $8 million in damage, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Dickey accidentally started the fire by shooting a target filled with a color substance, which would burst out in pink or blue, depending on the sex of his and his wife’s child NBC News reported at the time. In pleading guilty, Dickey agreed to five years of probation and more than $8.1 million in restitution with an initial payment of $100,000.
“Cal Fire reminds the public that with the dry conditions and critical fire weather, it doesn’t take much to start a wildfire. Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible,” Cal Fire officials said in an emailed statement.
A Cal-Fire spokesperson, Captain Richard Cordova noted that the amount of acreage burned just within the past 30 days would equal more than ten New York cities. “This is crazy. We haven’t even got into the October and November fire season, and we’ve broken the all-time record,” Cordova said.
Gender Reveal parties have been criticized by some activists in the LGBTQ community. Rae Gray a Trans activist who identifies as an Indian, queer, trans, non-binary woman, wrote an article criticizing the parties approximately nine months after the Arizona blaze.
“Gender-reveal parties are baloney. One’s sex has little bearing on one’s gender, but cisnormative society at large is still uncomfortable acknowledging this. Cis parents, in general, are very uncomfortable acknowledging that there could be anything non-cis about their children at all—that pink or blue isn’t the be-all and end-all of gendered human experience and the very real harms that can come from pretending that this is the case,” Gray said.