A California wildfire that has so far devastated 7,050 acres 40 miles northeast of Palm Springs was started by a gender exposure party. The family who hosted the party faced the risk of jail time and a multi-million dollar fine.
Amid a record-breaking heatwave, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Safety said Sunday evening that a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device caused the fire.
The devices are sometimes used to release blue or pink smoke to announce the gender of an expected baby.
The fire started at 10:23 a.m. on Saturday, they said, and 527 people from 10 fire teams are currently trying to stop the progress of the fire.
It spread north from El Dorado Ranch Park to the Yucaipa Ridge. The ridge separates Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls from the town of Yucaipa.
Bennet Milloy, spokesman for the department, told DailyMail.com that the people who were hosting the party were still there when the firefighters arrived.
"We know how it started because they were still there," he said. "That and the fact that there were surveillance cameras in the park."
Milloy said it was a relatively small family gathering and that relatives had gathered for a photo opportunity.
He didn't know if they were locals, but said they may be responsible for the arson sentence and a massive fine under both civil and criminal law. The family could be held responsible for the entire multimillion dollar cost of putting out the fire, he said.
The civil costs were classified as "repression costs" – the charges for hundreds of firefighters, engines, helicopters and airplanes.
The criminal charges could come under "a variety of charges," he said – which would be more serious if homes were destroyed. The family could be exposed to public resource violations and even arson under Section 452 of the California Penal Code. Arson convictions can result in prison sentences of up to nine years.
When asked whether the family had recognized the seriousness of their situation, he said: "You understood the seriousness of the fire."
Milloy continued, “They really believed it was an accident.
"But I think now you understand the seriousness of the situation."
He did not have their names but said they would be released if charged.
The El Dorado wildfire that broke out on Saturday morning was started by a gender reveal party, it has been confirmed
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Sunday night a gender reveal party started the fire
The devastating fire moves up the slopes of the San Bernardino National Forest on Sunday
The fire spread quickly north, from where it started north at El Dorado Ranch Park, onto Yucaipa Ridge
The fire spread north from El Dorado Ranch Park to the Yucaipa Ridge and the San Bernardino National Forest
Evacuation orders have been issued for the parishes of Oak Glen, Yucaipa Ridge, Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls
No injuries were reported. An outbuilding was destroyed on Saturday, Desert Sun reported, but no further damage was reported until Sunday afternoon.
According to the newspaper, around 30 houses were at risk of fire.
Evacuation orders have been issued for the parishes of Oak Glen, Yucaipa Ridge, Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls.
An evacuation warning is now in force for the Yucaipa bank area, the fire department said.
Residents are told that they can evacuate to the Yucaipa Community Center as a temporary evacuation facility.
Firefighters use 60 fire engines and four helicopters to extinguish the fire with water.
"CAL FIRE reminds the public that, given the dry conditions and critical fire weather, it doesn't take much to start wildfire," the press release said.
"Those responsible for starting a fire due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible."
Satellite imagery on Saturday gave an impression of the extent of the El Dorado fire that was sparked by a gender unveiling party
The El Dorado fire blazed in the San Bernardino National Forest near Oak Glen and wiped out more than 7,000 acres
527 firefighters used helicopters, airplanes and more than 60 fire engines to contain the fire
A fire-fighting aircraft doused the area with specially formulated flame retardants that were supposed to stifle the sparks
Helicopters were also used to pour gallons of water on the fire to contain the flames
Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency when a series of forest fires devastated his state
Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, declared a state of emergency in five counties, including San Bernardino County, on Sunday due to the El Dorado fire that continues to be "extremely active due to dry vegetation, steep terrain, and hot weather across the country “Is region.
Officials are urging residents to heed evacuation warnings and travelers stay away from the fire area.
"We have to focus the firefighters we have on fighting fires, not managing people," the firefighter said in a joint press release released on Sunday.
The El Dorado fire is currently burning two miles from where the Apple fire destroyed 33,000 acres last month.
Firefighters said it might be helpful because the El Dorado fire got into the & # 39; burn scar & # 39; could penetrate and disappear.
The Apple Fire, which had been 95 percent contained for weeks, was ignited on July 31 by a diesel vehicle that "emits burning carbon from the exhaust system," investigators said.
Ambient temperatures are projected to be above 110 degrees near Yucaipa as Southern California is surrounded by a heat wave.
Temperatures peaked 122 degrees in Palm Springs on Saturday, and similar conditions were expected on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
The fire department said 527 people were working to stop the fire, which benefited from tinder-dry conditions
The National Weather Service has warned of a "fatal heat wave" that will hit parts of California on Labor Day
Across California, firefighters are currently fighting 23 forest fires that have so far destroyed 1.6 million acres.
Nearly 15,000 firefighters worked to put out the flames and fight record temperatures in the state.
Firefighters fear the situation will only get worse.
"The National Weather Service has issued several fire stations and warnings with red flags for this weekend and into the next week, as critical fire weather such as strong gusty winds and low humidity may occur," said a statement by the fire department.
They said a red flag warning would extend across much of the Inland Empire until Sunday in San Diego.
A red flag warning also went into effect on Sunday evening over the mountains from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles County.
A red flag warning was issued for Modoc County as of Monday.
A fire station will begin on Monday in much of northern California, including the Bay Area and the eastern Sierra to the Mojave Desert.
Cal Fire firefighters protect a structure near the Montiel Truck Trail during the Valley Fire on Sunday in San Diego County
Fireman Ricardo Gomez of a San Benito Monterey Cal Fire Crew sets up a controlled fire while fighting the Creek Fire
A look at the site of the Creek Fire, which began Friday afternoon, exploded and grew to 73,278 acres by Sunday
Firefighters perform near a Southern California Edison power station to protect it from the advancing Creek Fire on Sunday
Two Kern Valley Hot Shots firefighters rest after a night fighting the Creek Fire
Gabe Huck, a member of a San Benito Monterey Cal Fire crew, stands on State Highway 168
San Miguel County firefighters tackle a bushfire along Japatul Road during the Valley Fire in Jamul, California
Shaver Lake is covered in ash and smoke as the Creek Fire burns on Sunday
Records have been broken for temperatures across the state. Paso Robles had the hottest day in the city's history when the mercury hit 112 degrees on Saturday.
The Woodland Hills neighborhood in Los Angeles also had the hottest day ever with temperatures of 117 degrees.
The forest fire warning for the Santa Barbara area has been upgraded to a red flag.
On Saturday evening, the National Weather Service warned Southern Californians that conditions were likely to continue.
"Expect a similarly hot day tomorrow, with maximum inland temperatures between 110 and 120 degrees, which are hottest in the valleys," they tweeted.
“On Monday it will be a little cooler, but inland it will still be way above normal. Best cooling over the coast. Stay hydrated and cool! & # 39;
Beaches across the state were packed with people on Saturday enjoying the sun on the final official summer weekend.
In Los Angeles, Santa Monica Beach was full of families and friends eager to get away from the heat.
Around 43 million Americans are under heat watch and are expected to stay indoors
Everywhere on Santa Monica Beach, people packed in the sand with their friends and families
Santa Monica Beach was busy with sunbathers, surfers, and swimmers on Saturday amid the Labor Day holidays
Huntington Beach, California was filled with people cooling off in the waves on a scorching hot day