Bennett Milloy, a spokesperson for California’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, told the Daily Mail that the couple whose gender reveal party triggered the El Dorado wildfire could be liable to foot the entire bill for the destruction which is expected to cost millions.
According to a news release by the agency on Sunday, the fire, which is determined to have been started by a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device for the gender reveal party, began at 10:23 am on September 5 in the El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa. The fire spread from the park to the north onto the Yucaipa Ridge. The ridge separates Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls from the City of Yucaipa.
Milloy told the outlet that the couple hosting the party was still on the scene when firefighters arrived.
“We know how it started because they were still there,” Milloy said. “That, and the fact that there were surveillance cameras in the park.”
CREEK FIRE IN CALIFORNIA GENERATES SMOKE CLOUDS UP TO 50,000 FEET, HUNDREDS AIRLIFTED TO SAFETY
Though it is unkown if the couple are local residents, Milloy told Daily Mail that they are liable to foot the entire bill for putting the fire out, which is expected to cost millions of dollars in “suppression costs”.
The couple could also face a variety of criminal charges, which would be more severe depending on if homes were destroyed. According to Milloy, the family could be hit with violations of public resources codes and even arson under California’s penal code section 452. Arson convictions can result in sentences of up to nine years.
“They genuinely believed it was an accident,” Milloy added. “But I think now they understand the gravity of the situation.”
While he did not disclose the family’s names, he noted that they would be released if charges are pressed.
The Department of Forestry and Fire Protection did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment.
The El Dorado fire has burned over 7,000 acres as of Monday evening and is 7% contained, according to the latest update on the department’s website
CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE PROMPTS AIR RESCUES OF MORE THAN 160 STRANDED CAMPERS
The White House approved California’s request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration last month to bolster the state’s emergency response to wildfires burning across the state. The declaration makes funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Lake, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo who have suffered financial losses due to the wildfires.
According to the release, the state’s 2020 budget includes $85.6 million in funding for permanent firefighting positions and for technology to help Cal Fire “model fire behavior.”
FEMA also offers Fire Management Assistance Grants, which offers 75% of the cost to be covered by federal funding while a state pays the remaining 25%.
Wildfires have burned more than 2 million acres in California this year, setting a state record even as crews battled dozens of growing blazes in sweltering temperatures Monday that strained the electrical grid and threatened power outages for millions.
The most striking thing about the record is how early it was set, with the most dangerous part of the year ahead.
“It’s a little unnerving because September and October are historically our worst months for fires,” Cal Fire spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff told the Associated Press. “It’s usually hot, and the fuels really dry out. And we see more of our wind events.”
The previous high was 1.96 million acres (793,184 hectares) burned in 2018. Cal Fire began tracking the numbers in 1987.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX S APP
The Associated Press contributed to this report