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13 Feb, 2024 21:17

US couple behind disastrous gender-reveal party sentenced

The botched 2020 gender-reveal party sparked the El Dorado Fire, which killed a veteran firefighter and destroyed multiple homes
US couple behind disastrous gender-reveal party sentenced

The couple behind the deadly 2020 El Dorado Fire in California, Refugio Jimenez Jr. and Angelina Jimenez, were sentenced on Friday after reaching a plea deal, the San Bernardino County District Attorney office has announced.

Jimenez Jr. pleaded guilty to two counts of recklessly causing a fire and to felony charges of involuntary manslaughter, while his wife pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of causing fire to another’s property. Under the plea deal, the man was sentenced to one year in county jail, two years of felony probation, and 200 hours of community service, with his wife getting one year of summary probation and 400 hours of community service.

“Resolving the case was never going to be a win.” District Attorney Jason Anderson said in a statement. “The defendants’ reckless conduct had tremendous impact on land, properties, emergency response resources, the displacement of entire communities, and resulted in the tragic death of Forest Service Wildland Firefighter Charles Morton.”

The catastrophic gender-reveal party was held in September 2020, when the Jimenez family, the couple and their young children gathered at El Dorado Ranch Park. The gender reveal involved setting off a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device, which ignited dry grass in the area. Despite the couple’s effort to put out the blaze, it turned into a major wildfire.

The El Dorado Fire triggered the evacuation of multiple small communities across the San Bernardino National Forest area, killed firefighter Morton, injured 13 other people, and destroyed five homes and 15 other buildings.

Jimenez’s party has become one of the most disastrous gender-reveal events to date. Gender-reveal parties became a popular tradition in the US in the 2010s, spreading elsewhere since then. The parties, which are usually staged as pompously as possible, involve elaborate pyrotechnic displays and other dangerous stunts, which have repeatedly resulted in massive fires, powerful explosions, and even deadly aircraft crashes.