El Dorado Fire
|El Dorado Fire|
San Bernardino County,
|Date(s)||September 5, 2020– November 16, 2020|
|Burned area||22,744 acres (9,204 ha)|
|Cause||Sparked by a pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party|
|Buildings destroyed||10 structures destroyed, 6 structures damaged|
The El Dorado Fire, also colloquially known as the Gender Reveal Fire, was a wildfire burning during the 2020 California wildfire season and was burning in the area of Yucaipa, west of Oak Glen near Highway 38 in San Bernardino County, California in the United States. Igniting on Saturday, September 5, near the winding two-lane Oak Glen Road, expanded to 22,744 acres (9,204 ha) and destroyed 10 structures, including 4 residences, and damaged 6 others. The fire was caused by a pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party and spread rapidly, causing one fatality.
The fire began on September 5, caused by a malfunctioning smoke-generating pyrotechnical device at a gender reveal party. The fire then continued to spread in the El Dorado Ranch Park, as well as parts of San Bernardino County and Riverside County, burning up to 13,715 acres as of September 14. By September 18, it was 66% contained, and the fire had damaged 6 buildings and destroyed 10. One firefighter was killed by the fire. By October 10, the El Dorado Fire was at 22,744 acres (9,204 ha) and was 95% contained. The fire was extinguished on November 16, 2020.
The fire burned steep mountain terrain already prone to landslide, rockfall, and debris flow hazards. Loss of vegetation destabilizes hillslope soils and releases sediment to channels increasing the risk for post fire debris flows. The prevalence of invasive species and weeds nearby also threaten regrowth of natural vegetation communities, which can impact animal habitat and future fire scenarios. Conversion of native chaparral habitat to Spanish broom or annual exotic grassland is a concern. Projected hazard suppression costs are 60 million dollars.
Due to steep slopes and high burn severity, the burn scar of the El Dorado Fire left downstream communities in Yucaipa, Oak Glen, and Forest Falls at risk of mudflows during a major winter rain storm in January 2021. Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for the Mountain Home Village community on January 28. Evacuation orders were lifted on January 29.
Parts of the areas burned by the El Dorado Fire had no recorded fires since 1900, and the last fire to affect the region was the Mitchell Canyon fire in 1977. Dense vegetation and mature brush contributed to high burn severities. 71% of the fire perimeter was burnt at high or moderate severity. Patches of forest that experienced stand-replacing fire are expected to revegetate but are threatened by nearby invasive and weed populations. Mountain habitats in the San Bernardino Mountains hosted a wide range of biodiversity prior to the fire. The Southern Willow Flycatcher and the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog are two endangered species that live in environments impacted by the fire.
Calfire law enforcement determined that the cause of the fire was a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device, used in a gender-reveal party. The gender reveal party was held in comparison to similar incidents and used as a criticism of the practice.
In July 2021, Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez, the couple that hosted the party, were charged in San Bernardino County with involuntary manslaughter for the death that resulted from the fire.
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- "Storm Forces Evacuations For El Dorado Fire Burn Area Around Yucaipa". CBS Los Angeles. January 28, 2021. Retrieved January 30, 2021.
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- Morales, Christina (September 8, 2020). "A baby gender reveal party was blamed for starting a wildfire in California. It's not the first celebration to end in disaster". Baltimore Sun. Retrieved January 30, 2021.
- "Couple charged in California fire sparked by gender reveal". ABC News. July 21, 2021. Retrieved July 21, 2021.
This article incorporates text from https://www.fire.ca.gov/incidents/2020/9/5/el-dorado-fire/, a public domain work of the Government of California.