Sept. 19 (UPI) — A wildfire in Southern California sparked by an explosive at a gender-reveal party is responsible for the death of a firefighter, U.S. agriculture officials said Friday.
The San Bernardino National Forest said the firefighter died Thursday while battling the El Dorado Fire.
“The name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. Our deepest sympathies are with the family, friends and fellow firefighters during this time,” a statement from the U.S. Forest Service said.
Officials were investigating the fire and the death.
The El Dorado Fire, situated in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, has burned more than 21,000 acres and was 66% contained as of Friday morning. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said it was sparked Sept. 5 by a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device used in a gender-reveal party.
The agency said those responsible for sparking the fire could be held criminally or financially responsible.
In addition to the single death, there have been 12 fire personnel and civilian injuries, and 10 structures have been destroyed.
The El Dorado Fire is one of dozens of wildfires blazing throughout California, Oregon and Washington. There have been dozens of deaths, including 26 in California.
More than 3.4 million acres have burned in the Golden State, with the largest of the blazes, the August Complex, having consumed some 824,000 acres, the largest in the state’s history. The group of fires was 30% contained as of Friday morning.
One person has died in the blaze and more than two dozen structures have been destroyed.
In Oregon, favorable weather conditions, including cooler temperatures and rain, were expected to assist firefighters and ease air quality. Forecasters, though, are concerned that any heavy rainfall might cause flash flooding with debris left over from the wildfires.
At least eight people have died and several others are missing in Oregon, where several fires have consumed about a half-million acres of land. Some evacuation orders were lifted in the affected areas.