Gender reveal sparked wild megafires
The woman who is largely credited with starting the "gender reveal" party trend is pleading with the world - please stop.
Jenna Karvunidis has reacted with horror after authorities revealed that a firework at a gender reveal party triggered a wildfire in southern California that has destroyed 2800 hectares and forced many residents to flee their homes, one of several enormous blazes raging across the state.
More than 500 firefighters and four helicopters are attempting to bring the El Dorado blaze east of San Bernardino, which started on Saturday morning, under control.
"Stop having these stupid parties," Ms Karvunidis wrote on Facebook. "For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid's penis. No one cares but you."
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.
While Ms Karvunidis' modest celebration that started the trend back in 2008 involved cutting a cake to reveal pink icing inside - a girl - several large fires have been started in recent years by gender reveal parties involving fireworks or explosives.
In 2017, a blue explosive started an Arizona fire that burned 7700 hectares and cost the party organisers $US8 million ($A11 million).
Last year, an Iowa grandmother was killed at a gender reveal party after a device filled with pink gunpowder acted as a makeshift pipe-bomb and sent shrapnel flying.
California has been baking under scorching conditions with temperatures reaching a record 49C on Sunday in Woodland Hills, the National Weather Service said.
With the hot and dry conditions, California has suffered a particularly busy fire season this year, with more than 650,000 hectares destroyed so far, including three of the biggest blazes in the state's history.
In northern California, more than 200 people were airlifted to safety over the weekend after a fast-moving wildfire trapped them near the Mammoth Pool Reservoir northeast of Fresno.
Dozens of evacuees are evacuated to safety on a Cal Guard Chinook last night after the Creek Fire in central California left them stranded. Photo courtesy California National Guard. pic.twitter.com/mi7X6wchpN— The California National Guard (@CalGuard) September 6, 2020
They were rescued by military helicopters, with dozens packed into a Chinook, a photograph posted by the California National Guard showed.
The Creek Fire, which started on Friday in steep and rugged terrain, has so far spread across 29,500 hectares, according to the US Forest Service, making it one of the largest.
More than 800 firefighters were battling the blaze.
Another rapidly spreading fire near San Diego, Valley Fire, has so far spread to 4000 hectares and destroyed 11 structures, Cal Fire said.
On Sunday, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for five counties affected by the Creek, El Dorado and Valley fires.
"The fires have burned tens of thousands of acres, destroyed homes and caused the evacuation of thousands of residents," the governor's office said.
Record temperatures over the three-day Labour Day weekend have aggravated already dangerous fire conditions and further stressed exhausted California firefighters.
Originally published as Gender reveal sparked wild megafires