Family behind gender reveal firework that sparked huge El Dorado wildfire in California could face bill for ENTIRE cost of putting blaze out –

California wildfire which has so far destroyed 7,050 acres of land 40 miles northeast of Palm Springs was started by gender reveal party, it has emerged – leaving the family that hosted the party at risk of prison time and multi-million dollar fines. 

Amid a record-breaking heatwave, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said on Sunday night 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 on Saturday at 10:23am, they said, and 527 people from 10 fire crews are currently trying to halt the fire’s progress.

It spread from the El Dorado Ranch Park north, onto the Yucaipa Ridge. The ridge separates Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls from the City of Yucaipa.

Bennet Milloy, spokesman for the department, told that the people hosting the party were still on the scene 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 that it was a relatively small family gathering, and that the relatives had gathered for a photo opportunity.

He did not know if they were local people, but he said they were potentially both civilly and criminally responsible for the fire – facing jail time and a massive fine. The family could be held responsible for the entire cost of putting the fire out, amounting to many millions of dollars, he said.
The civil costs were deemed ‘suppression costs’ – the charges associated with hundreds of fire fighters, engines, helicopters and planes.
The criminal charges could fall under ‘a variety of charges’, he said – which would be more severe if homes were destroyed. The family could be hit with violations of public resources codes and even arson, under California’s penal code section 452. Arson convictions can result in a sentence of up to nine years.
Asked if the family realized the seriousness of their predicament, he said: ‘They understood the seriousness of the fire.’
Milloy continued: ‘They genuinely believed it was an accident. 
‘But I think now they understand the gravity of the situation.’
He did not have their names, but said they would be released if charges were pressed. 

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