LOS ANGELES: A firework at a gender reveal party triggered a wildfire in southern California that has destroyed 2,800ha and forced many residents to flee their homes, the fire department said on Sunday (Sep 7).
More than 500 firefighters and four helicopters were battling the El Dorado blaze east of San Bernardino, which started on Saturday morning, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) said.
Residents of several communities in the area have been ordered to evacuate.
"CAL FIRE Law Enforcement has determined the El Dorado Fire, burning near Oak Glen in San Bernardino County, was caused by a smoke generating pyrotechnic device, used during a gender reveal party," Cal Fire said on Twitter.
"Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible," it warned.
Gender reveal parties are held during pregnancy to unveil the sex of the expected child, sometimes announced by pink or blue smoke fireworks.
With hot and dry conditions, California has suffered a particularly busy fire season this year, with more than 1.6 million acres destroyed so far, including in three of the biggest blazes in the state's history.
In northern California, more than 200 people had to be airlifted to safety over the weekend after a fast-moving wildfire trapped them near the Mammoth Pool Reservoir northeast of Fresno.