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A wildfire in California that destroyed more than 7,000 acres of land was started by a 'pyrotechnic device' used for a photo opportunity at a gender reveal party.
The family that hosted the party are now facing potential jail time, as well as multi-million dollar fines to cover the cost of controlling the blaze.
According to The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the fire was sparked by a device that pumps out coloured smoke.
Pyrotechnic machines are often used to release pink or blue smoke so that expecting parents can announce the gender of their new child to family and friends.
The fire has been worsened thanks to a record-breaking heatwave that is blasting the state.
Several new fire in California today. The #CreekFire in Fresno County. #ValleyFire in San Diego County. #ElDoradoFire in San Bernardino County. Lots of smoke seen on satellite. pic.twitter.com/fnHu0ZgbvK
- Drew Tuma (@DrewTumaABC7) September 6, 2020
Bennet Milloy, a spokesman for the department, told The Daily Mail that the people hosting the party were still present when the firefighters arrived.
"We know how it started because they were still there," he said. "That, and the fact that there were surveillance cameras in the park."
It began on Saturday at 10.23am, with upwards of 500 firefighters from 10 fire crews still working to put the fire out.
A press release stated that the unnamed family that caused it can be held both 'financially and criminally responsible'.
It read: "CAL FIRE reminds the public that with the dry conditions and critical fire weather, it doesn't take much to start a wildfire.
"Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially responsible and criminally responsible."
The governor of California, Gavin Newsom, declared a state of emergency in five counties, saying the El Dorado Fire is 'extremely active'. This is due to dry vegetation and steep terrain, as well as the ongoing heatwave.
Residents are being asked to take notice of the evacuation warnings that have been put in place with travellers being told to stay away from the area of the fire.
Fire officials said in a joint press release which was issued on Sunday: "We need to keep the firefighters we do have focused on firefighting and not on managing people."
The El Dorado Fire is just two miles away from where the Apple Fire spread over 33,000 acres last month - but fire officials say that it could actually be helpful. It's hoped that if the El Dorado Fire reaches the 'burn scar' it may go out naturally.
The Apple Fire was started on 31 July after a diesel vehicle had released 'burning carbon' from its exhaust, meaning it had emitted sparks.
The heatwave is exacerbating the 23 wildfires that are ravaging the state, with temperatures peaking at 50 degrees in Palm Springs on Saturday.
Multiple weather and fire warnings are in place across most of the state.
Featured Image Credit: PA
Topics: US News
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