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Couple Whose Gender Reveal Sparked Wildfire Could Be In A Lot Of Trouble

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 21 Jul 2021 07:52
Couple Whose Gender Reveal Sparked Wildfire Could Be In A Lot Of TroubleShutterstock (Stock)/PA Images

A California couple are facing criminal charges after their gender reveal party sparked a devastating wildfire.

Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez used a smoke machine in September to reveal the gender of their baby, and placed it in a nearby field.

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However, the smoke machine went on to start a fire, and due to the extremely dry conditions at the time, the blaze rapidly spread.

The expecting parents attempted to extinguish the flames with a bottle of water, but ended up having to call 911.

September 2020 California wildfire (PA)PA Images

In the first couple of days, the fire covered a staggering 7,000 acres and saw thousands of people having to evacuate their homes.

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The blaze went on to destroy nearly 92 square kilometers of land in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, and wasn’t contained until November 16 – more than two months after the initial fire began.

At the time of the ordeal, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection warned that those responsible for the fire could be held criminally responsible.

It said, ‘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.’

an Diego Sheriffs and CDF firefighters stage on Lyons Valley Road during the Valley Fire (PA)PA Images
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Due to the fire engulfing acres of land, thousands of firefighters were called in to tackle the blaze, one of whom sadly lost his life. Charles Morton, leader of the elite Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Squad, was killed on September 17.

At the peak of the fire, 1,351 personnel were assigned to tackle it, CBS Los Angeles reports.

Thirteen others were injured while five families lost their homes, and a further 15 buildings were destroyed.

In the wake of the devastating impact the fire had, the Jimenez family is facing eight felony and 22 misdemeanour counts, including one felony count of involuntary manslaughter.

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 Large crane helicopters drop water on the Valley wild fire (PA)PA Images

The couple pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday, July 19, but went on to be charged with involuntary manslaughter the following day.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson said at a news conference yesterday, July 20:

As you will recall back on September 5, 2020, Mr and Mrs  Jimenez used a smoke bomb to reveal the gender of their pregnancy.

[…] In cases like this, it’s the community that has to weigh and determine how they view this type of conduct vs. our resources, vs. our individuals who live in the community.

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The couple face up to 20 years in prison if they’re convicted as charged.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: News, California, no-article-matching, Now, US News, wildfire

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ABC news and 1 other
  1. ABC news

    Couple charged in California fire sparked by gender reveal

  2. CBS Los Angeles

    Charges Filed Against Couple Accused Of Starting El Dorado Fire Near Yucaipa That Killed Firefighter