A US couple whose gender reveal party last year was blamed for starting a deadly California wildfire face up to 20 years in prison, officials say. Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr and Angela Renee Jimenez have been charged with several offences, including involuntary manslaughter, over the El Dorado fire.
Officials say a smoke bomb used at the gender event last September sparked the blaze, in which one firefighter was killed and others were hurt. The couple have pleaded not guilty. The El Dorado fire lasted more than two months and covered over 22,000 acres of southern California, destroying homes and other properties.
The fire that allegedly started when the Jimenez family set off the smoke bomb in El Dorado Park, about 75 miles east of Los Angeles near Yucaipa, injured 13 people, including two more firefighters, and destroyed five homes and 15 other buildings. At its peak, more than 1,350 firefighters including Morton were tasked with trying to douse the blaze.
The charges included one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, along with other felony and misdemeanour counts related to the fire. CBS Los Angeles reports the couple each face up to 20 years behind bars if convicted as charged.