Talk about an explosive celebration. On Saturday morning, a fire broke out at a gender reveal at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa, California, and by Sunday night, it had spread 7,050 acres, had hundreds of firefighters battling the blaze, and has not yet been completely contained. What was the cause of the blast? Apparently, a gender reveal party that was using a “pyrotechnic device” sparked the flame and spread out of control. The fire has since forced 21,000 people to evacuate and as of Tuesday morning had grown to 10,000 acres. While it’s probable that the happy couple who is expecting their baby didn’t plan on causing a wildfire of this magnitude, it’s also clear that gender reveal parties of the pyrotechnic, explosive variety have gone too far, and must be stopped.
After all, this is not the first time that an explosive gender reveal has sparked a major wildfire. In 2017, an Arizonian new dad shot a gun at an explosive as a gender reveal trick, which caused a fire so intense that it grew to 47,000 acres and caused damage in the $8 million range. The new dad, who was having a boy, had to pay out all the damage and is still on probation for sparking the deadly fire. In 2019, in Knoxville, Iowa, the mother of the baby whose gender was being revealed died after a homemade explosive device made of gunpowder, wood, and tape malfunctioned and acted as a pipe bomb, with metal shrapnel killing her.
For the happy couple behind the El Dorado fire, the district attorney may decide to charge them with crimes, concluding that they violated at least three laws, including “igniting the land” and arson. The crimes could be felonies.
The woman who invented the gender reveal party, Jenna Karvunidis, has put her foot down after this most recent gender-reveal-related-wildfire. “For the love of God,” she wrote in a Facebook post, “stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid’s penis. No one cares but you.”
Karvunidis, who revealed her child’s sex in 2008 with a totally reasonable cake with pink inside, has drawn a line between that sort of celebration and explosives that cause wildfires. “Excuse me for having a cake for my family in 2008. Just because I’m the gEnDeR rEvEaL iNVeNtoR doesn’t mean I think people should burn down their communities,” she wrote.
And while that’s harsh, Karvunidis has a point. There’s no need to spark a massive, climate-change engendered event that could literally burn down people’s homes and kill them in a state that is known for its worsening, and deadly, wildfire season. The words “pyrotechnic device” and “burn ban” do not make a convincingly safe match. Cupcakes with colored cake inside, balloons with colored powder, or a pinata with all blue or pink candy? That seems more appropriate, and far less deadly.