California couple charged with manslaughter for gender-reveal party that went haywire

California wildfire
Photo credit Getty Images

The California gender-reveal party that allegedly inadvertently set off a wildfire last year has now resulted in criminal charges.

Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez pleaded not guilty Tuesday to 30 different criminal counts, including one count of involuntary manslaughter. The wildfire, which was traced to a smoke bomb used at the party, resulted in the death of a firefighter.

The couple was also charged with three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, and 22 misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing fire to property.

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Despite a prosecutorial request that each be held on $50,000 bail, the couple was released on their own recognizance.

The Jimenezes were holding a baby gender-reveal last September at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa when a smoke bomb being used at the party ignited a blaze.

Charlie Morton, a 14-year veteran firefighter, was on the team that responded and died in the line of duty. San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson said during a press conference after the hearing that he was pursuing manslaughter against the couple because Morton was “fighting a fire that was started because of a smoke bomb. That’s the only reason he was there.”

Anderson said the couple could face upwards of 20 years in prison if found guilty on all counts.