California couple pleads guilty for role in deadly El Dorado Fire gender reveal disaster

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner
A couple was sentenced Friday after they accepted a plea deal taking responsibility for the deadly El Dorado Fire that was sparked by a gender reveal gone wrong, according to prosecutors.

Refugio Jimenez Jr. and Angelina Jimenez each pleaded guilty to several charges in San Bernardino County, including three felonies for Refugio.

He pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of recklessly causing a fire to an inhabited structure, while Angelina pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors.

The charges were in connection to the deadly 2020 fire that began at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa.

The massive fire ignited after a mishap with a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device at a gender reveal party held during scorching hot temperatures, according to Cal Fire. The nearly 23,000 acre blaze destroyed 20 buildings and killed firefighter Charles Morton.

The couple whose gender-reveal stunt sparked last year’s deadly El Dorado Fire in Southern California has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, among dozens of other charges. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

“Resolving the case was never going to be a win.” said San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson. “The Defendants’ reckless conduct had tremendous impact on land, properties, emergency response resources, the displacement of entire communities, and resulted in the tragic death of Forest Service Wildland Firefighter Charles Morton…all these factors were given an extraordinary amount of consideration throughout every step of investigation, the Grand Jury process, and court proceedings.”

As a result of the guilty plea, Refugio will serve one year in a county jail, two years felony probation and 200 hours of community service. He’ll be entered into custody on Feb. 23, according to law enforcement officials.

In addition, the Jimenez family was ordered to pay victims’ restitution in the amount of $1,789,972.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.