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California in flames: gender reveal parties to blame

By Amanda Gonzalez Garcia 

Photo Credit to WBUR

Gender reveal party turns violent and starts yet another fire in California, known as the El Dorado fire. The cause was a smoke-emitting pyrotechnic device, which typically ignites blue or pink smoke to signify the sex of an expected child. The family involved has yet to be identified and is pending charges, if any. According to the InciWeb (Incident Information System), the incident took place in San Bernardino County in California and is not expected to be contained until December 31. 

California’s climate can be best described as dry and warm during the summer and wetter during the winter. The dry and warm climate serves more as a risk when trying to contain these wildfires. A current total number of 590 fire personnel have been placed in order to accelerate the containment process. There has been a confirmed firefighter fatality of Charles Morton.

Photo Credit to The New York Times

Many families have had to evacuate their homes, and road closures have been established as a necessary precaution. This is not the first time this has happened, however. In 2017, another gender reveal party in Arizona sparked a wildfire. This wildfire burned roughly 47,000 acres and caused over 8 million dollars in damages. The expectant father and off-duty U.S. Border Patrol agent, Dennis Dickey, pleaded guilty in 2018 and served five years in probation. Dickey was ordered to pay 8.2 million dollars in restitution. 

Blogger Jenna Karvunidis is the individual behind the “gender reveal party” trend, and did not expect for her post to receive as much controversy as it did. Karvunidis threw a party where she announced her baby’s sex by cutting into a cake filled with pink icing. Since then, many others have seen this event as an opportunity to get creative and extravagant by popping fireworks or confetti cannons, and Karvunidis feels some responsibility for the fires that have emerged from these reveals. However, aside from the dangers these parties can cause, others have also started to question how problematic these parties are due to the societal ideals they serve. These gender reveal parties can come off as problematic because they attempt to create an “identity” for the child. Karvunidis says, “I just try to cater to each child. The middle one loves dolls, so she has 100 dolls, whereas Bianca rocks her suits. She is the most confident 11-year-old you will ever meet.” 

Graphic Credit to KTVN

A California resident who has decided to remain anonymous retells the horrible moments she experienced due to the wildfires in California, as her family had to evacuate their Fairfield California home after their county of Solano was given a red flag warning. These red flags are indicators of when conditions will worsen within the next 24 hours and are the highest alert level there is. After this warning was declared, a fire weather watch is issued as a means to monitor fire activity. In their home, they have made sure to establish clear communication and understanding of what to do in these situations. Objects such as a fireproof safe box that protects their essential documents, a packed bag with essentials, and established an evacuation plan that can be enacted at any time are among some of the precautions they have taken. 

Photo Credit to Newsweek

As of August 18, Solano County was overpowered by a series of fires that burned over 353,000 acres through Napa, Sonoma, Lake, and Sonoma counties. They are recognized as the LNU Lightning Complex fires. The aforementioned California resident notes that these fires are not uncommon. Moreover, she explains how humans are not conscious of how their actions can have a lasting consequence, such as overall air quality. Low air quality can lead to short and long-term health consequences. 

As seen, these tragic events can be prevented by remaining aware of our surroundings at all times, especially when using fire-starting devices like fireworks and matchsticks. Volunteer at organizations or institutions that cater to these issues, ensure that family and peers are aware of the current dangers and how climate change is vital to all. Acts such as these can lead to a collaborative change.

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