WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Due to their gender reveal mishap, Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez were charged with involuntary manslaughter for allegedly causing the El Dorado fire in September.
- A veteran firefighter, Charles Morton, was killed while battling the flames.
- Other gender reveal parties in the past year have also caused deaths.
Another ‘gender reveal’ party has gone wrong, resulting in a wildfire that led to the passing of a veteran firefighter.
Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez’ gender reveal in September allegedly incited the El Dorado blaze, which killed 39-year-old Charles Morton, a firefighter for 14 years, and left 13 others injured.
Chief Vicki Christiansen mourned Morton, saying at the time that he was “tragically killed during efforts to suppress the El Dorado Fire on their home unit. Our hearts go out to Charlie’s loved ones, friends, coworkers, and the Big Bear Hotshots.”
A spokesperson for the US Forest Service told the San Bernardino Sun, “We would like to thank the District Attorney’s Office and Sheriff’s Department for their hard work and diligence in bringing forth charges in this case. Our thoughts are with Charlie’s family, friends and colleagues today and always.”
Officials then determined that a “smoke generating pyrotechnic device” used during a “gender reveal” party was the root of the fire. They added that “those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially or criminally responsible.”
On Tuesday, San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson announced that the California couple was charged with involuntary manslaughter. They were also facing three counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, and 22 misdemeanors of recklessly causing fire to property.
As reported by the Associated Press, the Jimenez couple pleaded not guilty to the charges, although the district attorney’s spokesperson has not responded to PEOPLE’s comment request.
In the past year, such parties have caused deaths in a plane crash and a forest fire. This prompted Jenna Karvunidis, who introduced the concept of “gender reveal” to the world, to denounce it.
“Stop it. Stop having these stupid parties,” she wrote on Facebook in September, amid the El Dorado Wildfire. “For the love of God, stop burning things down to tell everyone about your kid’s penis. No one cares but you.”