California couple charged in gender reveal gone wrong

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (NBC) – The couple whose gender reveal ceremony sparked a Southern California wildfire that killed a firefighter last year have been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges involving the El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County.

Charges include one felony count of involuntary manslaughter and other felony and misdemeanor counts related to the fire.

The fire was sparked on September 5, 2020, when the couple and their young children staged a baby gender reveal at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa.

A smoke-generating pyrotechnic device was set off in a field igniting dry grass. The couple tried to use bottled water to extinguish the flames and called 9-1-1.

Strong winds and dry conditions stoked the fire. Two weeks later, one firefighter was killed while setting fire lines to prevent flames from spreading.

Thirteen other people were injured and hundreds of residents were evacuated.

The couple is due back in court on September 15th.

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