California Firefighter Dies Battling El Dorado Blaze

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A California firefighter has been found dead after battling against the raging El Dorado Fire. The wildfire was sparked weeks ago by a pyrotechnic device used during a gender reveal party. This fire has caused many to criticize the outdoor use of pyrotechnics in California, and along the West Coast. This is the third major wildfire in California in as many years.

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The firefighter was the twenty-sixth person to die as a result of these fires so far. The flames were sparked when a device detonated that would show a color to match the gender of an unborn baby. This bizarre ritual, called a “gender reveal party,” was popularized on Instagram. The practice has come under scrutiny for reinforcing traditional gender stereotypes, and, now, for causing no less than two wildfires.

Conflagrations Burn West Coast

The West Coast has been cloaked in smoke and ash for over a week due to the fires. Dry conditions, brittle underbrush, and fast-moving winds have worked together to make the fires spread far and wide across the West Coast.

This fire has already burned more land than the previous two wildfires combined. Oregon has seen entire small towns burned away by the blazes. In Oregon alone, the fires have burned over one million acres of land.

Hundreds of thousands of people have had to flee their homes as the blazes encroach. Grabbing pets and prized possessions, people have fled east, away from the walls of flame. This has been heartbreaking alone, but is being compounded by occurring alongside the COVID-19 pandemic.

People who have already lost jobs and loved ones to the virus are now losing their homes to a blazing wildfire. Normally, around this time of year, people on the West Coast would be thinking about airline travel deals to see family for Christmas. Instead, they’re having to outrun forest fires.

Who Started the Fire?

Captain Bennet Malloy, of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, stated that fire officials know who started the fire. The family responsible tried to douse the flames using their water bottles and other nearby items, but were quickly overcome by the blazes.

They fled and called 911 to alert fire authorities, and cooperated with firefighters when they arrived. Captain Malloy stated that criminal charges are being considered.

Malloy noted that such charges wouldn’t be brought until after the fires were contained. However, he also noted, “I can’t speak on their behalf, but personally, I can only imagine how terrible they have to feel for a lot of reasons.”

In California, it is not uncommon for people who set fires to face criminal charges. However, it is unclear if that will happen in this case. The family could also be found financially liable for the costs of fight the blaze they started.