California dad pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter after gender reveal explosion caused deadly wildfire

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By James Kay

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A couple in California have pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter after their gender reveal party resulted in a deadly wildfire.

Refugio Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez entered guilty pleas for involuntary manslaughter and other charges related to the El Dorado fire that ravaged Yucaipa, California, in September 2020.

The blaze, ignited during a photo shoot at a ranch park, quickly spiraled out of control when a firework set dry grass ablaze.

Despite frantic efforts to douse the flames with bottled water and an emergency call to 911, the inferno, fueled by strong winds, rapidly spread beyond containment, as reported by the Associated Press.

Tragically, one of the responders battling the wildfire, 39-year-old Charlie Morton, lost his life in the line of duty. The fire consumed over 7,000 acres of land, prompting the evacuation of 3,000 residents, according to CBS.

Following a year-long legal process, the couple faced a litany of charges, including involuntary manslaughter.

On Friday, the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office announced a plea agreement between the defendants and prosecutors, marking a significant step toward closure in the devastating aftermath.

District Attorney Jason Anderson reflected on the gravity of the situation, stating: "Resolving the case was never going to be a win."

He underscored the far-reaching consequences of the defendants' actions, which not only caused extensive damage to land and property but also uprooted entire communities and resulted in the tragic loss of Morton.

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The fire was started during a gender reveal party. Credit: The Washington Post/Getty

Refugio Jimenez Jr. admitted guilt to a charge of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of recklessly causing a fire in an inhabited structure, all felony offenses.

As part of the plea deal, he will serve a one-year jail term, followed by two years of probation, and undertake 200 hours of community service.

Angela Renee Jimenez pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing fire to property. She was sentenced to a year of summary probation and ordered to perform 400 hours of community service.

In addition to their legal penalties, the couple must pay $1,789,972 in restitution to the victims, acknowledging the immense financial and emotional toll their actions bring.

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Charles Morton lost his life battling the blaze. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty

This isn't the first time a gender reveal party has ended in disaster after a couple dyed the 59-foot Cachoeira Queima-Pé waterfall blue for the occasion.

The couple's jubilant guests cheered as dark blue-dyed water cascaded down the waterfall behind them, accompanied by the release of blue powder cannons.

While intended as a joyous occasion, the spectacle drew sharp criticism from viewers, who explained the environmental impact of dyeing a natural wonder like a waterfall.

In response to the environmental outcry, Mato Grosso's Environment Protection Agency (SEMA) swiftly intervened, labeling the act as an "environmental infraction." The agency stressed the prohibition against introducing substances harmful to the environment into natural water sources.

Following a thorough investigation, SEMA levied a fine of 10,000 Brazilian reals (approximately $1,933) on a relative of the couple held responsible for the stunt.

The investigation revealed the use of "Blue Lake," a chemical product employed for dyeing bodies of water and swimming pools, during the gender reveal party.

Featured image credit: The Washington Post/Getty

California dad pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter after gender reveal explosion caused deadly wildfire

vt-author-image

By James Kay

Article saved!Article saved!

A couple in California have pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter after their gender reveal party resulted in a deadly wildfire.

Refugio Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez entered guilty pleas for involuntary manslaughter and other charges related to the El Dorado fire that ravaged Yucaipa, California, in September 2020.

The blaze, ignited during a photo shoot at a ranch park, quickly spiraled out of control when a firework set dry grass ablaze.

Despite frantic efforts to douse the flames with bottled water and an emergency call to 911, the inferno, fueled by strong winds, rapidly spread beyond containment, as reported by the Associated Press.

Tragically, one of the responders battling the wildfire, 39-year-old Charlie Morton, lost his life in the line of duty. The fire consumed over 7,000 acres of land, prompting the evacuation of 3,000 residents, according to CBS.

Following a year-long legal process, the couple faced a litany of charges, including involuntary manslaughter.

On Friday, the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office announced a plea agreement between the defendants and prosecutors, marking a significant step toward closure in the devastating aftermath.

District Attorney Jason Anderson reflected on the gravity of the situation, stating: "Resolving the case was never going to be a win."

He underscored the far-reaching consequences of the defendants' actions, which not only caused extensive damage to land and property but also uprooted entire communities and resulted in the tragic loss of Morton.

size-full wp-image-1263248964
The fire was started during a gender reveal party. Credit: The Washington Post/Getty

Refugio Jimenez Jr. admitted guilt to a charge of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of recklessly causing a fire in an inhabited structure, all felony offenses.

As part of the plea deal, he will serve a one-year jail term, followed by two years of probation, and undertake 200 hours of community service.

Angela Renee Jimenez pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing fire to property. She was sentenced to a year of summary probation and ordered to perform 400 hours of community service.

In addition to their legal penalties, the couple must pay $1,789,972 in restitution to the victims, acknowledging the immense financial and emotional toll their actions bring.

size-full wp-image-1263248974
Charles Morton lost his life battling the blaze. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty

This isn't the first time a gender reveal party has ended in disaster after a couple dyed the 59-foot Cachoeira Queima-Pé waterfall blue for the occasion.

The couple's jubilant guests cheered as dark blue-dyed water cascaded down the waterfall behind them, accompanied by the release of blue powder cannons.

While intended as a joyous occasion, the spectacle drew sharp criticism from viewers, who explained the environmental impact of dyeing a natural wonder like a waterfall.

In response to the environmental outcry, Mato Grosso's Environment Protection Agency (SEMA) swiftly intervened, labeling the act as an "environmental infraction." The agency stressed the prohibition against introducing substances harmful to the environment into natural water sources.

Following a thorough investigation, SEMA levied a fine of 10,000 Brazilian reals (approximately $1,933) on a relative of the couple held responsible for the stunt.

The investigation revealed the use of "Blue Lake," a chemical product employed for dyeing bodies of water and swimming pools, during the gender reveal party.

Featured image credit: The Washington Post/Getty