Over 10,000 acres in California are burning due to a gender reveal party.
A "smoke-generating pyrotechnic device" at a Saturday event in El Dorado Ranch Park near Yucaipa in San Bernardino County sparked the El Dorado Fire, which has consumed 10,574 acres and was 16 percent contained by Tuesday morning, reports CNN. Officials called it "one of the most dangerous fires" they've ever recorded in the region, which is about 70 miles east of Los Angeles. No injuries have been reported yet. And all of this to tell the world a baby's sex.
The disastrous gender reveal party was caught on surveillance footage, in which a person appears to light the device while several children walk into the grass, a source told CNN. Once a fire began, the group attempted to douse the flames with water bottles but were unsuccessful.
Due to an ongoing investigation, the video is not yet released to the public. If charges are filed against the party, they may include "igniting the land" and arson.
A statement from California’s Department of Forestry and Fire indicated that the family could also be held financially liable for the damage caused by the fire. "Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible," affirmed the notice, which was posted Sunday to Twitter.
Officials are pleading with residents to exercise more caution in California, which has been the site of nearly 1,000 fires since August 15, the majority caused by lightning strikes and dry conditions.
Pyrotechnic devices — which may release blue or pink smoke — are among the stunts used at gender reveal parties, controversial events in which a child's assigned sex is shared with attendees through sometimes hazardous means.
This is far from the first gender reveal party to spark calamity. In 2017, an off-duty border agent shot a gun at a target packed with explosives and blue powder; the resulting fire scorched almost 47,000 Arizona acres. He was ordered to pay $220,000 in 2018. Other fails include a cannon, knife-throwing, and an alligator fed a melon full of blue Jello that had to be subdued to protect guests.
As the fire continued to grow amid a California heat wave, Jenna Karvunidis, the parenting blogger who is credited with creating the concept of the gender reveal party in an online forum in 2008, took to Facebook Monday with a plea to end the practice once and for all.
"Stop it. Stop having these stupid parties. For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid's penis. No one cares but you," wrote Karvunidis, who had first formally disavowed the disturbing trend in 2019.
"It was 116 degrees in Pasadena yesterday and this tool thought it would be smart to light a fire about his kid's dick," she added. "Toxic masculinity is men thinking they need to explode something because simply enjoying a baby party is for sissies.
"Oh, and of course I'm getting hate messages. 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."
In addition to causing fiery mayhem, gender reveal parties are harmful societally since they celebrate sex assigned at birth, which for transgender and nonbinary people is not necessarily their corresponding gender. In recent years, some parents have thrown gender reveal parties for their LGBTQ+ kids, which is a progressive reclaiming of the concept.