A California couple are facing manslaughter charges after a fire erupted allegedly after they tried to set off a smoke bomb to announce their baby’s gender.
he fire had already been burning for 12 days last September 17 when 39-year-old firefighter Charles Morton was killed while trying to extinguish it.
The inferno tore through San Bernardino National Forest, burning more than 20,000 acres and prompting widespread evacuations.
Now Refugio Manuel and Angela Renee Jimenez face manslaughter charges, San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson said on Tuesday.
The fire was one of several disasters connected to gender-reveal parties, in which parents announce their baby’s sex during pregnancy.
The practice has led to a fatal plane crash, partygoers’ tragic deaths, other wildfires and brushfires, and one massive explosion that rocked a New Hampshire neighbourhood and damaged a number of homes.
The fire that allegedly started when the Jimenez family set off the smoke bomb in El Dorado Park, about 75 miles east of Los Angeles near Yucaipa, injured 13 people, including two more firefighters, and destroyed five homes and 15 other buildings.
At its peak, more than 1,350 firefighters – including Mr Morton – were tasked with trying to douse the blaze.
In addition to the involuntary manslaughter charges, the Jimenezes also each face three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, and 22 fire-related misdemeanour counts.
The Jimenezes pleaded not guilty on Tuesday, Mr Anderson said.
The couple tried to extinguish the fire using water bottles before calling 911 to report it, officials said soon after the blaze erupted.
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