Reno Fire Department stresses caution after gender reveal leads to massive fire in California

Published: Sep. 8, 2020 at 7:13 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Smokey Bear wasn’t lying when he said “only you can prevent forest fires.”

According to Reno Battalion Chief Brad Jensen, 90 percent of wildfires are man-made.

“If we could eliminate half of those, we’d be a lot better off,” said Jensen. “The conditions we’re in now would be alleviated.”

With heavy smoke continuing to flow through Northern Nevada, a record fire season in California rages on. One of the over 10 fires currently burning, the El Dorado fire in Southern California, was started after a gender reveal went wrong.

During a photo shoot, a device used to create colored smoke sparked the fire. As of Labor Day evening, it had burned almost 9,000 acres.

Chief Jensen stresses common sense when incorporating pyrotechnics into anything.

“If you’re even thinking about that, contact the professionals,” said Jensen. “They’ll tell you this time of year, those things aren’t smart.”

So far, a record 2-million acres have burned during California’s 2020 fire season. The effects have been felt in Northern Nevada, with smoke filling the skies for most of August and now into September.

Chief Jensen says nearly 20 firemen with the Reno Fire Department are currently fighting fires across the border.

“We’re working twice as hard to keep our area safe while the areas around us burn for various reasons,” added Jensen.

While gender reveal-caused fires are rare (though one in Arizona burned over 45,000 acres in 2018), Chief Jensen says barbecue grills, fire pits, fireworks, lit cigarettes and other domestic sources could easily lead to catastrophe if not handled carefully.

“When you celebrate, celebrate safely,” said Jensen. “Ask yourself, is it really important I have this fire going right now?”

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