Couple Receives Numerous Charges for Deadly 2020 Fire

gavel, judge

( – Gender reveal parties have become extremely popular over the last decade. Happy couples throw a celebration with their closest friends and family to reveal the sex of their baby. This is done in all kinds of elaborate ways, from cutting open a cake with colored frosting in the middle or in the case of one California couple, using a pyrotechnic device. 

The gender reveal for that couple went very, very wrong. Now they are being charged with dozens of crimes, including manslaughter. 

El Dorado Wildfire

On September 5, 2020, couple Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez held a gender reveal party at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa, California. They used a “smoke-generating pyrotechnic device” to reveal the sex of their baby and inturn, that device started a massive wildfire. The blaze burned for 23 days, burning 22,680 acres of land, destroying 5 homes, 15 other buildings, injuring 12 and killing one firefighter. 

Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Squad Boss Charles Morton, 39, lost his life battling the fire. The San Bernardino County Fire Department mourned his loss in the days after, saying their hearts were broken. He was survived by his wife and daughter. 

On July 20, San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson announced 30 charges against the couple responsible for the fire. The charges include “involuntary manslaughter” for Morton’s death, 3 felony counts for “recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury,” 22 misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing fire to property, and “four felony counts of causing a fire to inhabited structures.” 

The couple pleaded not guilty in court and were released from custody on their own recognizance. If found guilty on all of the charges, they could spend more than 20 years in prison. 

Deadly Gender Reveals 

The El Dorado wasn’t the first time a gender reveal had devastating results. In 2019, Pamela Kreimeyer, 56, died after being hit in the head by metal after her family exploded different materials to see which would work the best for a reveal. Earlier this year, in April 2021, a pilot and co-pilot died after performing stunts at a gender reveal party.

The 2017 Sawmill Fire was started when a Border Patrol agent shot a target that exploded to reveal the gender of his baby. The fire caused more than $8 million in damaged and burned 45,000 acres. The agent pleaded guilty to starting the fire. 

While these parties can be fun for family and friends, it’s important for everyone to make sure that what they are doing is safe. Maybe instead of an explosive reveal, expectant parents should stick to really cool cakes and scavenger hunts.

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