Alberta’s provincial flag flies in Ottawa on Monday, July 6, 2020. A $600 fine was issued after a gender-reveal party led to a wildfire in Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Alberta’s provincial flag flies in Ottawa on Monday, July 6, 2020. A $600 fine was issued after a gender-reveal party led to a wildfire in Alberta. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Exploding device at gender reveal party leads to wildfire in northern Alberta

An exploding target turned into a fire about half the size of a Canadian Football League field

A $600 fine has been issued after a gender reveal party led to a wildfire in Alberta.

Travis Fairweather, a wildfire information officer, says the party was taking place about 10 kilometres west of Fort McMurray on May 31.

An exploding target full of blue or pink powder didn’t just reveal the baby’s gender — it started a significant blaze.

The fire grew in size to about half of a Canadian Football League field.

Ten wildland firefighters were dispatched to help local firefighting crews.

Fairweather says written permission is always required in Alberta to use fireworks or an exploding target.

“Fireworks and exploding targets — they can be fun, but they can also come with a hefty price tag if you end up inadvertently starting a wildfire.”

He says a person could also be charged with the cost of fighting the blaze.

Alberta legislation was amended in 2017 to allow for fines and the requirement for written approval.

”We were seeing enough of these exploding targets that it did require us to change the Forest Prairie Protection Act.”

It’s the third wildfire caused by an exploding target this season, but Fairweather says not all were necessarily gender reveal parties.

Fairweather says 2020 was a historically quiet fire season in Alberta, but the percentage of human-caused wildfires has increased significantly.

The five-year average is 68 per cent of fires being caused by people, but last year it was 88 per cent. So far this year, 76 per cent of fires have been human-caused.

“We’d like to see those numbers come down.”

Multiple wildfires have been linked to explosions at gender reveal parties in recent years throughout North America.

In 2020, a large fire east of Los Angeles was ignited by a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device. A firefighter died battling the blaze, which was named the El Dorado Fire.

Jenna Myers Karvunidis, who has been credited for possibly starting the trend, has since expressed disdain for what the parties have become in light of the California fire.

“Could we just stop having these stupid parties and then the problem would solve itself,” she tweeted last September.

It’s also been five years since a wildfire so ferocious it earned the nickname “the beast” forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray.

Nearly 90,000 people had to flee the flames and thousands of buildings were destroyed in the northeastern Alberta oilsands hub.

—The Canadian Press

RELATED: Gender reveal party explosion rocks several U.S. towns

RELATED: In Fort McMurray, stark contrast between devastated and untouched neighbourhoods

Wildfires

Just Posted

This photo of the small wildfire burning above Naramata was taken at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021 (Monique Tamminga Western News)
BC Wildfire on scene of small wildfire above Naramata

Black smoke can be seen rising from the mountain

Keremeos’ heritage Grist Mill and Gardens. (Brennan Phillips - Keremeos Review)
Keremeos Grist Mill looking forward to restrictions easing with exclusive concert planned

Juno Award-winning folk artist Valdy is set to take the stage

Letter writer says COVID has created lots of newbie cyclists who don't know rules of cycling. (File photo)
LETTER: Newbie cyclists in Penticton need lessons on rules of the road

Penticton cycling group just received city funding, should give back by offering how-to lessons

No dental coverage for low income Canadians. (File photo)
OPINION: Penticton MP’s proposal for universal dental coverage rejected

One in 3 Canadians have no dental coverage, with COVID making it even worse

The weekly COVID-19 map for June 6 to 12. (BC CDC)
South Okanagan sees only 5 new cases in last week

The Similkameen Valley went a second week without any new cases

Bear wanders Kelowna on June 15. (Michelle Wallace/Facebook)
Bear climbs fence, uses crosswalk in Kelowna

The bear was spotted on Baron Road Wednesday evening

Students in the Grade 10 entrepreneurship program at Summerland Unisus School have completed a cookbook with international recipes. (Contributed)
Summerland students create virtual international cookbook

Entrepreneurship program at Summerland Unisus School uses virtual cookbook as fundraiser

Hundreds of people, young and old, joined the three-day Walking Our Spirits Home procession, honouring residential school survivors, those who never made it home and all those affected by the institutions. Here people walk the third portion on June 13. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Walking Our Spirits Home from Kamloops provides path to healing

First Nations in and beyond Secwépemc territory join in to honour residential school survivors

More flames
Lake Country home destroyed in large blaze, 11 dogs rescued

Fire crews are responding to 10839 Hallam Drive

(Facebook/Kelowna Cabs)
Kelowna Cabs reaches tentative agreement with dispatchers union

The tentative agreement could help end the dispute between the taxi company and the dispatchers

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

A boat sharing service is extending to Summerland. The company, Penticton Boat Club and Rentals, is also taking over the boat rentals at Summerland Waterfront Resort. (Photo by Chris Stenberg)
Boat sharing service extended from Penticton to Summerland

Company will also operate boat rentals at Summerland Waterfront Resort

201 First Street West 1980s. Prior revitalization. (Photo from Revelstoke Museum and Archives)
Man who redesigned downtown Revelstoke honoured with lifetime achievement award

Robert Inwood has worked on historical projects across the province

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

Most Read