- Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter on Monday.
- The couple are accused of sparking California’s El Dorado wildfire last year with their gender reveal.
- A firefighter, 39-year-old Charlie Morton, died battling the blaze.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
California prosecutors charged a couple with involuntary manslaughter on Monday, accusing them of sparking a deadly wildfire last year with a gender-reveal stunt.
Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez pleaded not guilty to the charges on Monday, according to the Palm Springs Desert Sun.
According to the Desert Sun and the Associated Press, the Jimenezes gathered at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa on September 5 to record a video revealing the gender of their unborn child.
They set off a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device in a field to reveal the baby’s gender, the outlets said, which quickly ignited the dry grass around it. It isn’t clear what gender was to be revealed.
The couple tried to put the fire out with bottled water and called 911, per the reports, but strong winds quickly spread the blaze.
The wildfire became known as the El Dorado fire, and resulted in the death of a firefighter and 13 injuries. Hundreds of residents were evacuated, and the fire burned 36 square miles before being contained on November 16, according to the AP.
California officials blamed a gender reveal the day after the fire began, but took longer to name and charged the Jimenez couple.
Charlie Morton, 39, was the firefighter who died. He was a 17-year veteran and left behind a wife and daughter, according to the Desert Sun.
The couple also face three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, and 22 misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing fire to property, the Desert Sun reported.
Jimenez Jr. and Jimenez are next due in court on September 15. Insider was unable to contact them or their lawyers for comment.
San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson said Tuesday that the couple face sentences in the “lower teens to low twenties” of years if found guilty on all charges, according to the Desert Sun.
Earlier this month, a gender-reveal party sparked a wildfire in Canada. In 2017, an Arizona dad was fined $US8 ($AU11) million for sparking a blaze that destroyed 48,000 acres with a gender reveal, according to the New York Post.