California fire officials have sourced the ongoing 7,000-acre El Dorado Fire burning near Oak Glen in San Bernardino County to a “smoke generating pyrotechnic device” at a gender reveal party Saturday morning in Yucaipa’s El Dorado Ranch Park.
“The fire spread from the park to the north on to Yucaipa Ridge that separates Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls from the City of Yucaipa,” said the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, in a statement posted on Instagram last night. The statement also “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.”
Devices that release pink or blue smoke are sometimes used at gender reveal parties. According to reports, the family that hosted the Yucaipa party remained at the scene, where they told officials the fire was an accident. The family could be held financially or criminally responsible, and security footage apparently captured the incident.
The El Dorado blaze is only one of various wildfires that ignited since Friday as California experiences a record heatwave. Los Angeles has reported a temperature of 121 degrees, the city’s highest ever.
Late Sunday, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in five counties, including Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, San Bernardino and San Diego, the governor’s office said in a statement. According to the governor’s office, the fires have burned tens of thousands of acres, destroyed homes and caused the evacuation of thousands of residents.
“Governor Newsom has declared a statewide emergency due to the widespread fires and extreme weather conditions, and secured a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to bolster the state’s emergency response to the Northern California wildfires,” Newsom’s office said in a statement. “California has also secured Fire Management Assistance Grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to support the state’s response to fires burning in Santa Clara, Stanislaus, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Napa, Nevada, Lake, Solano, Yolo and Monterey counties.”
The state’s death toll from wildfires over the last three weeks has reached eight. Newsom’s declaration was prompted by the Creek Fire that has swept across thousands of acres in the Sierra National Forest since its start on Friday night.
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