Another large wildfire has been started by a pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party. CAL FIRE determined that the El Dorado Fire which has burned over 7,000 acres near a heavily populated area of San Bernardino County in southern California was started by the use of a smoke generating pyrotechnic device. The intent was to produce pink or blue smoke to inform bystanders (waiting breathlessly nearby) about the gender of a fetus.
The fire began at 10:23 a.m. on September 5, 2020 in the El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa. It spread from the park north to Yucaipa Ridge which separates Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls from the City of Yucaipa.
At least two other gender reveal parties that used pyrotechnic devices have started wildfires in recent years.
The 46,000-acre Sawmill Fire southeast of Tucson, Arizona was ignited in 2017 by an off-duty Border Patrol agent. He mixed colored powder into a Tannerite exploding target which would show blue or pink smoke when shot with a rifle, according to his attorney, Sean Chapman. The target exploded as planned and started what became the Sawmill Fire. A witness helpfully recorded a video of the explosion.
In 2020 a gender reveal party in Florida went wrong and sparked a 10-acre fire, also caused by a Tannerite exploding target.
A gender reveal party in Florida went wrong and sparked a 10-acre fire, CNN affiliate WESH reported. Firefighters were called to a home in Brevard County, Florida, last weekend after reports that a blaze was possibly ignited by fireworks, fire officials said. But when they arrived, firefighters realized some explosives had been in the mix.
“We were informed that it was caused by a gender reveal using Tannerite and a weapon,” Brevard County Fire Rescue Chief Mark Schollmeyer told WESH. Tannerite is a highly explosive substance often used as a rifle target.
The county had been under a burn ban, including outdoor activities such as campfires, bonfires and trash burning, because of the dry conditions in the region. The order comes with a fine of up to $500. It’s unclear whether anyone faced a fine.
A gender reveal party in Arizona in 2017 ignited the 46,000-acre Sawmill Fire when an off-duty Border Patrol agent shot a Tannerite explosive target. The agent pleaded guilty and was ordered to make an initial payment of $100,000, then make monthly payments after that. According to the Arizona Daily Star and the Green Valley News, he agreed in court to pay $500 a month for the next 20 years, which adds up to $120,000, for a total of $220,000. He was also sentenced to 5 years of probation and agreed to participate in a public service announcement with the U.S. Forest Service concerning the cause of the Sawmill fire.
Exploding targets consist of two ingredients that when mixed by the end user explode when shot by a high-velocity projectile. After the ingredients are combined, the compound is illegal to transport and is classified as an explosive by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Exploding targets have caused many fires since they became more popular in recent years, have been banned in some areas, and caused the death of at least one person.