A Southern California couple has been charged for allegedly setting off a smoke bomb for a gender reveal that caused a wildfire, which ultimately killed a firefighter and burned over 22,000 acres of land.
San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson announced the charges against Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez at a press conference.
The couple pleaded not guilty to one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, 3 felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, 4 felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, and twenty-two misdemeanors of recklessly causing fire to a property.
The fire started in El Dorado Park near Yucaipa, California on September 5th, 2020, and it vastly expanded in the dry conditions, lasting for twenty-three days and burning 22,000 acres across the country. This resulted in hundreds of people having to flee their homes, with 5 homes being destroyed, injuring 2 firefighters and killing 1 named Charles Morton.
Sharing our deepest sympathies from Chief Vicki Christiansen:
“Thursday evening we lost one of our own. Charlie Morton, Squad Boss for the Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Crew of the San Bernardino National Forest, was tragically killed during efforts to... (continued) pic.twitter.com/pfzmVkGQ0v
— San Bernardino National Forest (@SanBernardinoNF) September 22, 2020
"Thursday evening we lost one of our own. Charlie Morton, squad boss for the Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Crew of the San Bernardino National Forest, was tragically killed during efforts to suppress the EL Dorado Fire on their home unit. Our hearts go out to Charlie's loved ones, friends, coworkers, and the Big Bear Hotshots," the Twitter post read.
Anderson said that the fire had a "tremendous impact on the community" and it was a "complex case", but if the couple is found guilty, they could face as long as twenty years in prison.
Jenna Karvundis is credited with starting the gender-reveal trend over ten years ago with pink icing on a cake to reveal her baby's gender. She believes the trend has gone too far and declares enough is enough.
"We are burning down forestry, people are dying at the parties, we cannot do these anymore. This has to be the end," she said.
Back in 2017, another couple, John and Ashley Sterkel, faced up to a $1,000 fee, 1 year in jail, or both punishments, for their baby gender reveal using a rifle. The husband and wife announced the gender of their child with an explosion, finding themselves facing up to a year in prison. Mixing explosives with blue chalk and detonating it with a rifle, John and Ashley prompted neighbors to call the police after hearing the explosion.