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.
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.”
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