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

Little Brown Bat, Cori Lausen image
Puntledge River bats being studied

Scientists will be monitering bat activity in the Puntlesge River Watershed this… Continue reading

A 30x40 ft boat/car shop in the Little River area near Wilkinson Road was fully involved by the time firefighters arrived on scene. Photo by Comox Fire Rescue
Comox firefighters battle ‘showy’ shop fire Saturday night

Smoke could be seen throughout the Comox Valley

ROAM Media’s Ian Adams designed the label for the new honey ale. Image supplied
Church St., Ace combine on a true Comox Valley brew

The taphouse has Home Buoy on tap, and it’s also in cans

The finish line! Huband held a ‘Colour Run’ Friday to celebrate what’s been a different school year. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Comox Valley school lets its colours run

Huband Elementary wanted a way to bring kids together

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop ‘appalling’ live horse export, slaughter

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Most Read