Gender reveal party that started El Dorado Fire leads to charges for involuntary manslaughter

A wildland firefighter was killed in 2020 while working on the fire that burned more than 22,000 acres in Southern California

El Dorado Fire
El Dorado Fire, photo by Jeff Zimmerman Sept. 5, 2020.

The couple that used a smoke bomb to indicate the gender of their unborn child has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and 29 other crimes, law enforcement officials announced Tuesday.

Investigators found that the El Dorado Fire  was started by a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party at a park in Yucaipa, California September 5, 2020. A firefighter was killed on the fire that burned more than 22,000 acres and required the expenditure of nearly $40 million in suppression costs.

Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez pleaded not guilty Tuesday, San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson announced at a news conference.

The couple was also charged with three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, and 22 misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing fire to property.

The judge released them on their own recognizance even though the prosecutor recommended they each be held on $50,000 bail.

Mr. Anderson said the couple could receive sentences ranging in years from  the low teens to the low twenties.

Charles Morton
Charles Morton, USFS photo.

The U.S. Forest Service reported that Charles Morton, a 14-year veteran  firefighter, died September 17, 2020 as he was burned over while battling the El Dorado Fire.

Mr. Morton was a squad boss on the Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Crew.

Another Big Bear crewmember disappeared under mysterious circumstances in the days following the death of Mr. Morton. Carlos Alexander Baltazar’s car was found abandoned on Highway 18 near Delta Avenue by the California Highway Patrol on September 20, about 75 yards from his backpack. He was reported missing by his family on September 24. His sister said on the driver’s seat was his ID, a money clip with $200, and on the passenger seat was a knife. His family said he was upset over the death of Mr. Morton, who they described as “his boss.”

As far as we can tell, Mr. Baltazar still has not been found.Carlos Alexander Baltazar

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to the folks who reported this story to us.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

47 thoughts on “Gender reveal party that started El Dorado Fire leads to charges for involuntary manslaughter”

  1. Without aa doubt, totally stupid. But that said, we I’ll society benefit by locking them up. How about lots of meaningful community service?

    1. A horrible outcome to what should have had a happy ending. A life was lost impacting a family & a community. This couple will ‘live’ w/ this for the rest of their lives. By putting them in prison for ? # of years leaves the ‘newborn’ w/ out parents. What does that accomplish? There has to be community services that would benefit many perhaps starting w/ volunteering @ the fire station.

      1. Oh no, put them away, that brat ain’t worth the life of that firefighter and ever other firefighter that put their lives on the line. They thought to have a smoke bomb at a gender reveal party, if they have that kind of life style they, you I just don’t have the words for the fact these people risked all , only so they would know the sex of their unborn chil, nope not worth it to me

        1. And why punish the. Baby it did nothing to the fire. Fighters they could of died in a. Fire elsewhere but it happened to be that one that took there life my empathy is out to them if it was an accident fire but if it was intent to start a fire then they should do time. But I see it as a accident fire was not meant to spread out of control

        2. Really brat u don’t even know that unborn baby. Baby did nothing wrong. U know where your heart is don’t have one all the way around. Yes it’s sad all this happened but it’s not like they did it on purpose wake up know that day someone would die land homes would b lost. U can b driving down the rd and kill someone by something flying off your car but say it’s your fault because u never made sure it did not happen or back fire start a fire. U just never know. So think before u open your mouth about an unborn baby u don’t even know…

        3. So what put an innocent baby to grow up in the system just to turn out to be another no good person it does not let the kids learn the mistakes his parents made and be different give them a better chance

      2. I can’t believe you suggested that! It’s a slap to the face of the family who lost a firefighter because some morons made a moronic move! And to volunteer, SERIOUSLY? They’d be ridiculed and hated!

      3. I agree, that’s the most ludicrous thing I’ve heard in a while. Yes they commited a grevious crime and should be held accountable but while the state holds them accountable with obvious unreasonable punishment, who’s being held accountable for taking a newborn from their loving family? The state? Well that’s wonderful, give the state another opportunity to ruin another innocent child’s life in the name of justice. There should be a program implemented like house arrest with on going community service until further notice and if not a program like that should be made. Stop trying to separate family’s, we’re all already in a state of crisis. The judicial system is just fueling the fire with absurd sentences.

      4. It accomplishes this irresponsible couple to not be able to cause another stupid act that not only killed a veteran fire fighter but also destroyed acres of land that supports habitats for hundreds of animals. How does a mother bear move all of her small cubs at the same time to safety when there’s no where to go? Not to mention all the other animals that no longer have a home or environment due to reckless, thoughtless people. This couple should not be allowed to reproduce. Just one more especially irresponsible person in a world that already has too many.

    2. No different than a person stopping for a drink then getting into a car wreck and killing some one except this affected many more

    3. Are you saying something about legalization of pot or legalization of the death penalty? The were not involved in legalizing the life penalty.

  2. California Penal Code Section 452, and it’s subsections are all very specific in regard to all of the violations these people are charged with. It is also very specific as to what the sentences can/should be. Sadly, these folks without intent, caused a death and lots of destruction. They are going to pay one heck of a price legally and financially. Even if they are not convicted under any of the PC-452, sections, victims of their negligent actions will in all probability be lining up to take civil actions against them. I’m sure that both Cal Fire and USFS will also be looking at billing these folks for suppression costs. All of this proves once again why we used to call PC-452, the “Felony Stupid” section. No matter how this all shakes out, these folks have made their life a total legal and financial disaster for a long time to come.

    1. The stress these parents are under will definitely have an impact on the fetus , and then the newbon , and the adult. This baby is going to have issues. Obviously this is ridiculous. What about the other fires that have happened over the years?? Why should these people suffer. If they were rich white couple with friends in the judicial system I bet they wouldn’t be charged , just saying. People have died before on the other fires and are their deaths recognized and reported on. How did they find out that the fire was caused by this couple,? Because they did the right thing and called the fire department, or what??? Why are not all the facts being reported. This story should have all there’s points I’ve mentioned so people can have all the facts. I believe this is too much to put on one or two people . Its just not realistic. This just basically ruined these people’s lives. They will be screwed paying on fines and law suits, since people in this country date so sue happy . I realize that are more lives that are impacted because of the fires, and especially to the families that have lost loved ones, ( peace be with you, and R.I.P, I bow my head to you), but it is a different kind of trauma. That’s all I have to say about that.

      1. Charles the firefighter is dead, what of his family? Their livelihood? The damages? Over a “baby reveal?” Manuel and Renee started the fire and now must face the consequences of their actions via Judge and/or Jury.

        1. They may not have intended for all of this to have happened but it has and they are accountable. Same for car accidents etc. Poor judgement is not an excuse. Remember the bar fire from a concert that had pyrotechnics and folks got trapped in the burning building. I’m sure no one intended to kill anyone. Yet it happened.

      2. I agree about the discrimination. It is not ruled out. I think that severe punishment won’t solve anything. They aren’t arcenists. Are they? It is. Great lost, I won’t deny it but we must learn from our mistakes and move on as a society. There should be more campaigns that warns about wild fires. Let’s replant the trees. Have the couple play an active part on this. To the firefighter’s family, my prayers and request to God to bless him and his family greatly. As Jesus had thought us. That who hasn’t sin cast the first stone. May the martirs of this situation serve to awake compasion for each other and for the planet.

    2. Actually not accidental. Intentional. Sad? Is there eternity after life for them? Exactly why? A party? Huh?

  3. Those people are suffering enough! They only wanted to do something special and fun for a new grandbaby. I think that the authorities should look at intent and to define if the pyrotechnique was used in accordance to safty precautions, which should have been included with the device, whether they rented it or purchased it. These people don’t appear the type to be reckless or without conscience. I agree that community service and public speaking about this experience would be much more effective, as their lives are already devastated by this whole horrible situation. They can’t possibly be gaining anything but grief that their exciting event caused death and destruction. The guilt and pain and loss from this alone is more punishment they will bare for the rest of their lives.

    1. “Intentions” do not matter. They acted without regard to anyone and anything else. Has this not happened before? Yes! Several times over .
      They absolutely need to be held accountable. I do not GIVE A $#!+ about their suffering. They killed a Firefighter, destroyed a lot of land, property and undoubtedly, many wildlife lives as well, not to mention the sufferings and cost to those putting the fire out.
      These stupid gender reveals can be done in ways that do not include dangerous pyrotechnics.

    2. They are being made an example of so that in the future, others will not make the same mistake. So many should not have had to suffer because of their ignorance. They should be required to complete community service also. Perhaps people will think twice before carrying out selfish acts without regards to others and the environment.

  4. Crystal, it’s pretty obvious that this was not done safely and weighed against the death and destruction they caused their punishment seems appropriate. Would you be so forgiving if someone setting off fireworks in your neighborhood burned your house down and killed a family member, after all, they were just celebrating.

  5. I agree that what they did was incredibly thoughtless, irresponsible, and many other things.. I, however, feel that jail time would be the wrong punishment for their crimes. I understand that there are consequences (legal and financial just to name a couple) but maybe every case should be assessed and charged individually.. The ideas, for example, intense community service and others mentioned prior to my comment are a start.. Like someone commented, I’m sure they’re suffering enough.. Would leaving a baby w/o his parents and ruining more lives really be the solution to this incredible tragedy??

    1. Keep this in mind. In other Countries like China or India the sentence could be death for starting fires resulting in death(s). The couple will have their day in court to try to explain their actions to the Judge and/or Jury.

        1. Not that you care, but if you want to rant and rage, I am from America.

          I have Grand relatives that died in Europe during WWII fighting Hitler & Mussolini. I have Grand Grand Grand relatives that fought against southern traitors in the Civil War.

          However, the topic is starting fires, arson & consequences NOT diversion which you seem to employ. What is next, my favorite color.

  6. COMMON SENSE AS MOST OF US SHOULD HAVE?? would have told them that Any Type Of pyrotechnics AND THE SMALLEST SPARK can SETOFF A FIRE!!
    HELLOOO!! C’MON PEOPLE A MANS LIFE WAS TAKEN! AND MANY MORE COULD HAVE BEEN TAKEN AS WELL. I HAVE NO SYMPATHY FOR THEM AT ALL!!!!

    1. I agree with you, but it is unfair to allow the others who violated the same laws to escape their past and not be made examples also. We do know who many of them are so don’t fall into the trap of saying we only know the identity of this couple in relation to the past forest fires.

  7. I’m just wondering about the people who rent out these devices? Do they hold any responsibility?

  8. There’s no way there should be any fireworks in an area where the El Dorado fire was. They should pay heavily and dearly for causing a death. Even if there was no death they should still be held responsible. It sounds like poor choices due to a lack of common sense.

  9. This is like when the Forest Service lets a fire burn because its in the wilderness and it comes out of the wilderness and burns down private property, homes ect. and they are not held accountable for there actions? Like the Tamarack Fire. So you can put people in prison for a camp fire ect. But nobody will be in trouble the the let it burn policy.

  10. Pg&e are also getting off easy and still causing fires , the law is the law. This is horrible for so many, nothing will replace all that’s lost and all those who have died. Think about all the human errors in history that have killed millions of life’s. The law is the law because human beings are the cause of so much suffering. They never learn, they have to pay for this mistake and so many should have paid for there’s, equal justice under the law should be upheald.

  11. OMG HOW DUMB LIKE YOU NEGATIVE PEOPLE NEVER DONE A STUPID MISTAKE IN YOUR PAST…… THESES PEOPLE DID A VERY BAD THING AND YES THEY SHOULD BE PUNISH BUT THE FACT IS THAT CHILDREN LEFT IN ADOPTION CENTER ONLY TURN INTO BAD PEOPLE IN SOCIETY AND WHO KNOW BY HIS PARENTS RAISING IT HE COULD BE SOMETHING GREAT LIKE A DOCTOR OR LAWYER EVEN A PRESIDENT AND GOD KNOWS WE HAVE ENJOY PEOPLE IN THE PRISON SYSTEM. THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA COULD USE THE HOURS OR YEARS OF COMMUNITY SERVICE AND HELP THESES PEOPLE CAN OFFER IF WE PUT THIS COUPLE IN JAIL WE HAVE NOT LEARNED TO MOVE FORWARD SHOW AN EXAMPLE THAT THE SYSTEM HAS A HEART ❤️❤️❤️

  12. For service….prison helps no one.
    Have NO doubt they will suffer rest of their lives
    With service some good can be found

    Those of you who advocate throwing away the key have never done time
    Otherwise you would be more compassionate

    FYI….a poor person is more likely to feed the hungry or homeless
    Than the rich or elitists

    Because empathy usually comes from
    Shared experience

  13. These people will suffer for the rest of their lives. They probably lost their home too. BUT if they go to prison, how can they pay back their dept to society? Prison is the easy way out for the parents. Making restitution for the damage they did, making them financially pay for the life they took and pay to raise his family. They can’t pay the lawsuits if they’re in prison.
    Make them rebuild the community they destroyed.
    Attacking the innocent? Not cool! Life will be Hell for that kid.

  14. This does not seem like the right outcome to this situation. Did they do this on purpose? The device should be banned. Who should really pay? Perhaps no one on purpose.

  15. Why have we become so unforgiven toward people. We have all done dumb stuff and some of us probably deserve to be punished but wasn’t. This couple did not intentionally start a fire. A person intentionally throwing a lit cigarette into the woods had done just as much damage in the past. Show the same mercy you would want if you were in their shoes

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