Firefighter dies battling wildfires in California sparked by gender reveal

Credit: AP

A firefighter has died battling a wildfire in California that officials said was sparked by a device used to reveal a baby’s gender.

The death happened on Thursday in the San Bernardino National Forest as crews struggled to contain the El Dorado Fire.

The fire erupted earlier this month from a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device used by a couple to reveal their baby’s gender, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, said.

Smoke from California wildfires obscures the sky over Oracle Park as the Seattle Mariners take batting practice. Credit: Tony Avelar/AP

The name of the firefighter is being withheld until family members are notified.

"Our deepest sympathies are with the family, friends and fellow firefighters during this time," U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Zach Behrens said in a statement.

Cal Fire said earlier this month the fire was ignited on September 5 when a couple, their young children and someone there to record a video, staged the baby gender reveal at El Dorado Ranch Park at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains.

A hand crew works a fire break along a ridge during the El Dorado Fire along Highway 38 west of Forest Falls. Credit: AP

The device was set off in a field and quickly ignited dry grass.

The couple frantically tried to use bottled water to extinguish the flames and called 911.

Authorities have not released the identities of the couple, who could face criminal charges and be held liable for the cost of fighting the fire.

Shortly after the fire began, San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson issued a statement saying he was aware of the community’s concerns about how the fire started.

San Francisco seen through hazy smoke. Credit: AP

"If investigative reports are filed with our office, we will review all facts, evidence, statements, and reports to determine what criminal charges, if any, need to be filed," Mr Anderson said.

The wildfire has burned nearly 30 square miles (77.7 square kilometres) and was about 66% contained, according to Cal Fire.

It has so far destroyed 10 buildings and damaged six others.

More than 17,000 firefighters are battling more than two dozen major wildfires in California.

The blazes are blamed for at least 25 deaths.