Explosive sex reveal party lit wildfire near Fort McMurray

An explosive sex reveal party near Fort McMurray sparked a wildfire, and a person was fined $600.

The fire started in the Fort McMurray Forest Reserve on the afternoon of May 31, and it was lit by a family who went to the woods to celebrate their imminent birth.

Wildfire officials declined to provide more details about the exact location of the fire or the accused, but warned the Albertans about the unusual cause: the target of the explosion.

Usually discs containing colored powder explode when hit by projectiles such as bullets.

Travis Fairweather, the wildfire information officer of the Alberta Wildfire Bureau, said this is the third accidental wildfire triggered by an explosive target in Alberta so far this wildfire season.

“When you fire a bullet at them and connect, it creates a small explosion,” Fairweather said in an interview on Tuesday.

“Especially in dry conditions, the initial explosion will produce some heated debris… When it hits the ground, it will slowly boil and will definitely cause a wildfire.”

Projectiles are usually used to shoot targets, but they have become a popular gimmick at gender reveal parties where prospective parents use blue or pink explosions to announce whether their child is a boy or a girl.

“[Gender reveal parties] It seems to be more and more popular, and people are trying to improve the last one, that’s for sure. I think I have seen an exploding golf ball,” Fairweather said.

“Of course, we hope that exploding targets will not become a more common method.”

Fairweather said the fire destroyed nearly half a hectare of forest.

Fairweather said the fire was called to 911 and the staff arrived shortly after 1pm.

Local firefighters assisted 10 field firefighters to extinguish the flames. By 2:40 pm, the fire had been completely extinguished.

Man-made fires are on the rise

Fairweather said the person in charge was charged under the Forest and Grassland Protection Act. He said the RCMP also participated in the investigation.

Fairweather said man-made wildfires are on the rise. This year, 76% of wildfires were caused by people.

Last year, 88% of wildfires were caused by humans. Fairweather said both figures are well above the five-year average of 68%.

The province requires written permission to use fireworks or exploding targets in forest reserves, and he said that care should be taken when using them.

We arrived long after the blue or pink plumes dissipated.-Travis Fairweather, Wildfire Information Officer

Fairweather said that while fireworks and explosion targets are interesting, they can also be costly if they cause accidental fires.

He said that those found responsible for causing the wildfire may have to pay a fine of $600 or bear the full cost of fire fighting.

Fairweather said he doesn’t know whether the families involved in gender disclosure expect boys or girls, but hope their stories will help dissuade other Albertans from taking unnecessary risks.

“We can only guess,” he said. “Unfortunately, we arrived long after the blue or pink plumes dissipated.”

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