Calif. fire sparked by de­vice to re­veal baby’s gen­der

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION / WORLD - BY FRANK BAKER

LOS AN­GE­LES — A cou­ple’s plan to re­veal their baby’s gen­der went up not in blue or pink smoke but in flames when the de­vice they used sparked a wild­fire that burned thou­sands of acres and forced peo­ple to flee from a city east of Los An­ge­les.

The fire prompted evac­u­a­tions in parts of Yu­caipa, a city of 54,000. More than 500 fire­fight­ers on the scene Mon­day only had min­i­mal con­tain­ment. No homes have burned and no in­juries have been re­ported.

It’s the lat­est in what has be­come a list of tragedies at events where typ­i­cally smoke, con­fetti, bal­loons or other col­ored ob­jects are used to re­veal the soon-to-be-born child’s bi­o­log­i­cal sex — pink for girls and blue for boys.

The fire started Satur­day morn­ing at El Ranch Do­rado Park, a rugged nat­u­ral area pop­u­lar with hik­ers and dog own­ers.

Wild­fires have burned more than 2 mil­lion acres in Cal­i­for­nia this year, a state record.

The uniden­ti­fied cou­ple chose the lo­ca­tion to re­veal their baby’s gen­der, said Capt. Ben­net Mil­loy of the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Forestry and Fire Pro­tec­tion. The fam­ily went into a field and fired off the de­vice, which quickly ig­nited 4-foot grasses, Mil­loy said.

Sur­veil­lance video showed the cou­ple fran­ti­cally race to their ve­hi­cle to re­trieve wa­ter bot­tles to try to ex­tin­guish the flames. It was fu­tile and they called 911.

“You can’t fight a fire like this with a wa­ter bot­tle,” Mil­loy said. “They had no chance af­ter it started.”

The cou­ple could be li­able for the cost of fight­ing the fire and crim­i­nally charged with mis­de­meanor or felony counts.


A wild­fire in Yu­caipa, Calif., Satur­day.

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