YUCAIPA (CBSLA) – Firefighters Monday continued to battle the El Dorado Fire — which was sparked during a heat wave Saturday when a family attempted to stage a gender reveal photo in Yucaipa using pyrotechnics — and then exploded to more than 9,000 acres, destroying several homes and forcing hundreds to flee.
As of 8:40 p.m. Monday, the El Dorado Fire had burned 9,671 acres and was 7% contained. About 21,000 residents have been evacuated. Several homes have been destroyed, although the exact number was not confirmed.
The fire was burning along hillsides and appeared to have spread in to the San Bernardino National Forest.
Sky2 also captured footage of a fire tornado overnight, which occurs when intense rising heat meets with turbulent winds.
On Sunday night, the fire burned down Yucaipa Ridge towards the communities of Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls.
Crews are contending with triple-digit temperatures and low humidity which has engulfed the region since Friday. The dangerous heat will continue through Monday evening.
“It burned in four different directions since we’ve been here,” Ben Holmes, a U.S. Forest Service senior firefighter on the Arroyo Grande Hotshots team, told CBSLA Sunday. “It was pushing to the east, then to the north, and then a big westwardly wind shift, and (Sunday) it moved to the south. The wind has been pretty dramatically inconsistent.”
The fire broke out at about 10:30 a.m. Saturday at El Dorado Ranch Park in the 37000 block of Oak Glen Road. It was started by a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party, according to the CAL Fire San Bernardino Unit. On Monday, CAL Fire officials elaborated that a family was taking part some kind of a gender reveal photo in the park, using pyrotechnics. They said one of the family members stayed behind and tried to extinguish the fire.
Family members could face charges including use of pyrotechnics and recklessly causing a fire, although officials emphasized that the investigation is ongoing. They could also be held responsible for costs associated with battling the fire and the damage caused by it.
Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for the communities of Oak Glen, Yucaipa Ridge, Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls. That includes all resident north of Yucaipa Boulevard, east of Bryant Street and south of Highway 38. It also applied to all residents north of Carter Street, west of Bryant Street and south of Highway 38.
About 650 firefighters from multiple agencies are battling the flames with the help of several water-dropping helicopters.
CAL Fire investigators believe a family taking gender reveal photos at a Yucaipa-area park with pyrotechnics sparked the #ElDoradoFire. They say family members could face charges including recklessly causing a fire. @CBSLA pic.twitter.com/IL5A6YzeTH
— Kara Finnstrom (@KaraFinnstrom) September 7, 2020