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Couple charged in Southern California wildfire sparked by gender reveal

Family behind gender reveal-caused wildfire in California could foot the bill for fighting it
Posted at 7:40 AM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-21 09:40:03-04

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A couple whose gender reveal party was blamed for sparking a wildfire last year that killed a San Diego firefighter has been charged with several felonies, including involuntary manslaughter.

During a press conference on Tuesday, the San Bernardino District Attorney and officials announced the results of a four-day criminal grand jury investigation into the El Dorado Fire on Sept. 5, 2020.

Following the findings, an indictment was filed against Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez. The two are charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures and 22 misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing a fire to property of another, San Bernardino County officials announced.

The El Dorado Fire began when a smoke-generating pyrotechnic sparked dry grass near Yucaipa, just east of Los Angeles, authorities say.

More than 22,700 acres were charred in the fire, and four homes were damaged and five were destroyed. Another 15 other structures were destroyed.

The fire killed U.S. Forest Service firefighter and San Diego native Charles Morton and caused 13 other injuries.

The couple has pleaded not guilty to the charges and will be back in court on Sept. 15, 2021. The court has released them on their own recognizance.

This story was originally published by Mark Saunders on Scripps station KGTV in San Diego. The Associated Press contributed to this report.