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

Douglas Denyer walks with his wife Dorothy, who passes away at 90. The long-time resident of Langley and Rotarian since 1984 turned 100 on June 16. He has two sons, five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Celebrating ‘a beautiful life,’ Langley senior turns 100

‘I’ve always tried to help out everyone I can” Douglas Denyer says

Vancouver Giants will return to the ice on Oct. 8, hosting the Prince George Cougars at Langley Events Centre. (Special to Langley Advance Times)
Giants will renew division rivalry with Cougars when season resumes in October

First game at Langley Events Centre since February of last year

A flower-bedecked memorial to one three people who died at the scene of a suspicious house fire in Langley stands outside the burnt-out house in the 19600 block of Wakefield Drive on Monday, June 29, 2020. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)
First hearing for man charged in Langley triple homicide

Kia Ebrahimian faces three counts of second degree murder

Big Splash water park is located in Tsawwassen. (submitted photo)
Big Splash reopens Canada Day with changes to keep the water park ‘safe for everyone’

Executive Hotels & Resorts has owned and operated the attraction since 2017

For more than a year, Rene Doyharcabal and a small group of neighbours in Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood have been going out every evening to show support for first responders by honking horns and banging pots and drums. Now, a neighbour has filed a noise complaint. (Langley Advance Times file)
Noise complaint filed against nightly show of support for health care workers in Langley

Langley Township contacted group to advise of complaint, but no immediate action is expected

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.’s Indigenous language, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

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

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact they recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Most Read