California blaze sparked by a gender-reveal party

F.P Report

CALIFORNIA: The boss of an elite crew of firefighters has been identified as the fatal victim of a California blaze sparked by a gender-reveal party.

Veteran US Forest Service worker Charles Morton, the head of a squad with a special federal firefighting force that swoops in to help stem US wildfires, died last week from injuries he sustained in the inferno authorities said.

“Charlie was a well-respected leader who was always there for his squad and his crew at the toughest times,” US Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen said in a statement, according to the local media.

Morton, 39, of San Diego was leading a group with the federal Big Bear Interagency Hotshot Crew to battle a pyrotechnic display-gone-horribly awry when he was mortally wounded.

The raging fire had been sparked in El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa in San Bernadino County east of Los Angeles on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 5, as a couple and several children gathered to learn the gender of an upcoming baby.

A person in the group triggered the pyrotechnic display to reveal pink or blue smoke for the baby’s sex and ignited a blaze that has burned more than 22,000 acres and forced the evacuation of nearly 3,500 homes so far. The family had frantically called 911 at the time while trying to put out the blaze themselves with water bottles.

The fire is still less than 60 percent contained.

The family could face millions of dollars in fines and even criminal prosecution for starting the blaze.

Meanwhile, Morton, a 14-year veteran of the Forest Service, “is survived by his wife and daughter, his parents, two brothers, cousins, and friends,” his family said in a statement.

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