A couple whose gender reveal celebration started the El Dorado Fire in California last year that killed a firefighter and left 13 others injured have been charged.
Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez each were charged with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, the San Bernardino County District Attorney Jason Anderson announced Tuesday. A judge released them on $50,000 bail, despite objections from the prosecution. The charges included one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, 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.
Anderson said Tuesday that the couple could face sentences extending from the “lower teens to low 20s” of years if found guilty on all charges. Charlie Morton, a 14-year veteran “hotshot” firefighter with the San Bernardino National Forest, died while fighting the blaze.
The El Dorado Fire erupted on Sept. 5 when the couple and their children staged a baby gender reveal at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains. When asked how prosecutors would argue that the couple’s actions were responsible for Morton’s death, Anderson stated that the firefighter was “fighting a fire that was started because of a smoke bomb.” “That’s the only reason he was there,” he said.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: USA TODAY
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