Palm Springs Desert Sun
Published 12:14 PM EDT Sep 7, 2020
The family that used a pyrotechnic device during a “gender reveal” — which officials say sparked the El Dorado Fire burning near Yucaipa — tried to extinguish the fire themselves, then called 911 and remained on scene until firefighters arrived, Cal Fire Capt. Bennet Milloy said.
The family has “absolutely been cooperating” with officials, Milloy told The Desert Sun on Monday.
No arrests have been made in the ongoing investigation and it will be up to the district attorney whether any charges will be filed, he said. Possible charges also depend on whether any homes are lost or injuries sustained, Milloy said. So far, there have been no reports of either.
“Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially responsible and criminally responsible,” Cal Fire officials stated in a press release on Sunday.
Milloy said the mechanism used in the reveal is being tested to determine if it is considered as “safe and sane” firework.
In Yucaipa, safe and sane fireworks are illegal, Milloy said.
He also clarified that the gender reveal was not a “party” but just the immediate family gathering at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa for a “selfie” as the device discharged to reveal the gender of the baby the couple is expecting.
The fire grew to 7,386 acres overnight but firefighters were able to make some progress, reporting 7% containment Monday morning.
The fire burned actively throughout the night, laying down around midnight, but then picking up again around 3:30 a.m. Monday, fire officials said.
Weather continues to be a challenge for firefighters. An excessive heat warning remains in effect until 8 p.m. Monday and a fire weather watch is in effect Tuesday and Wednesday.
High pressure and weak offshore flow continues to bring extreme heat. There will be a slight cooling starting on Monday along the coast and spreading inland through Tuesday.
As the high pressure weakens, a strong low pressure system will move into the Great Basin and push eastward.
An offshore flow associated with this system will create Santa Ana conditions over Southern California midweek, with wind gusts up to 45 mph from the east/northeast. This warm and dry pattern is expected to continue into next weekend, with some cooling possible over the weekend.
The El Dorado Fire had burned up the south side of the Yucaipa Ridge above the communities of Oak Glen and the North Bench area of Yucaipa, fire officials said Sunday. After cresting Yucaipa Ridge, the blaze was threatening the communities of Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls.
No injuries have been reported. An outbuilding was destroyed on Saturday, but no other damage has been reported even though about 30 homes were threatened by the fire.
All evacuation orders remained in effect Monday morning.
Evacuation orders have been issued for the communities of Oak Glen, Forest Falls and Mountain Home Village. A portion of North Bench Yucaipa also was evacuated. Red Cross set up a temporary evacuation facility at the Yucaipa Community Center, located at 34-900 Oak Glen Road.
Fire officials reminded those traveling over the holiday weekend of the following road closures:
- Highway 38: Northbound Highway 38 is closed at Bryant Avenue and southbound Highway 38 is closed at the town of Angelus Oaks.
- Oak Glen Road is closed at Pine Bench Rd on the east and Cherry Croft/Jefferson on the west.
Outdoor recreation areas closed, including: Vivian Creek, Momyer, San Bernardino Peak, Falls picnic area and Thurman Flats picnic area. The Mill Creek drainage and off-trail areas of the San Gorgonio Wilderness south of the San Bernardino Peak Divide Trail also were closed.
Officials asked that residents heed evacuation warnings and travelers stay clear of the fire area.
“We need to keep the firefighters we do have focused on firefighting and not on managing people,” fire officials said in a joint release Sunday.
State of emergency
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday declared a state of emergency in five counties, including San Bernardino County due to the El Dorado Fire which continues to be “extremely active” due to dry vegetation, steep terrain and sweltering hot weather across the region.
In addition to the El Dorado Fire, Newsom also issued the proclamation for the counties of Fresno, Madera and Mariposa due to the Creek Fire, and for San Diego County due to the Valley Fire. The fires have destroyed homes, prompted evacuations and continue to burn thousands of acres.
Newsom also declared a statewide emergency due to widespread extreme weather and fire conditions across California. This allowed Newsom to bolster that state’s emergency response and secure federal funds to support the state’s response to a variety of fires in Northern California as well.
Previous reporting by Colin Atagi, Nicole Hayden and Shane Newell.