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Firefighter is killed battling blaze started by botched gender-reveal party


El Dorado Fire tragedy

Photo by Kyle Grillot for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A firefighter in California has died in the El Dorado Fire, the wildfire that started earlier this month from a pyrotechnic device used during a gender-reveal party.

What are the details?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a statement that the firefighter, who has not been named, was killed on Thursday.

"USDA Forest Service officials on the San Bernardino National Forest have confirmed the death of a firefighter on the El Dorado Fire," the statement said. "The incident took place on Thursday, September 17, 2020."

"Our deepest sympathies are with the family, friends and fellow firefighters during this time," it continued. "The cause is under investigation. More details will be made available as they are confirmed."

On Thursday night, SoCal Air Operations tweeted that a search and rescue operation had been initiated for a missing "hot shot" near Pinezanita, California. Hot shots, according to the San Bernardino County Sun, are "specially trained firefighters who battle blazes in remote regions by hiking in or being lowered from a helicopter" and "build fire breaks with tools they carry."

In a tweet about the tragedy, Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, tweeted: "I am deeply saddened that the firefighter who went missing while fighting the El Dorado Fire has died. Each day, our nation's courageous firefighters and first responders risk their lives to protect our communities. May this brave soul rest in peace."

What's the background?

The massive fire, which started after a pregnant couple set off a firework in El Dorado Ranch park, resulted in an initial containment effort consisting of more than 500 firefighters, 60 fire engines, and four helicopters.

The couple reportedly used a cylindrical device to send either pink or blue smoke into the sky in order to reveal the sex of the baby, but sparked a fire in the process. They attempted to douse it with water from their water bottles, but it was to no avail.

From there, the fire quickly spread and, as of Friday morning, had burned 21,678 acres and was 66% contained.

The San Bernardino County Sun added that 12 injuries have been reported in relation to the fire so far, not including this most recent death. Four homes have been destroyed.

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