California Wildfires

El Dorado Fire Near Yucaipa Caused By Smoke Machine at Gender Reveal Party

The El Dorado Fire broke out during a day of extreme heat and low humidity. Dangerous fires conditions will continue through the weekend.

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What to Know

  • The El Dorado Fire started Saturday in the Oak Glen area about 25 miles east of San Bernadino.
  • Evacuations were ordered for Oak Glen, Mountain Home Village, Forest Falls and part of Yucaipa.
  • Triple-digit heat is expected in the area through Labor Day.

Evacuations remain in place for thousands of residences due to a fast-moving brush fire that was caused by a smoke machine used for a gender reveal party.

The El Dorado Fire was reported Saturday in the 37000 block of Oak Glen Road. It quickly expanded to 800 acres by early afternoon, prompting evacuations for the community of Oak Glen. The fire grew to more than 9,600 acres by Monday night, with 7% containment.

Despite flames of about 300 feet early Sunday, firefighters have defended homes.

Cal Fire said Sunday night that the fire was determined to have been caused by a smoke machine used during a gender reveal party at the El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa.

"CAL FIRE reminds the public that with the dry conditions and critical fire weather, it doesn't take much to start a wildfire. Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible," the department said in a statement.

As of Monday, evacuation orders were in place for the following:

  • Yucaipa Boulevard at Bryant intersection to the east;
  • Yucaipa Boulevard to Avenue E southeast to the intersection of Mesa Grande, east to Wildwood Canyon Road to include all portions of Hidden Meadows and the southern portion of the Cherry Valley Community from Nancy Lane east to Beaumont Ave,  including portions of Riverside County down to Orchard Street.
  • Oak Glen (partial, see road closures);
  • Mountain Home Village;
  • Forest Falls and North Bench Yucaipa (north of Carter St to Highway 38 and both sides of Bryant St east & west)

Also, evacuation warnings were in place for Beaumont Avenue east to Hillside Place in the Highland Springs area to the Apple Fire burn perimeter to the north and Cherry Valley Boulevard to the south.

An evacuation center was set up at Yucaipa Community Center. About 3,000 homes are under evacuation orders.

There were also several San Bernardino National Forest recreation closures announced:

  • San Gorgonio Wilderness: The entire wilderness area is closed, in addition to all inbound trails and associated parking lots, roads and trailheads.
  • Other Trails: Big Falls, Oak Glen Divide, Wilson Creek and Santa Ana River Trail between the southern Forest boundary and Middle Control Road.
  • Picnic Areas: Falls and Thurman Flats
  • Camping: Thomas Hunting Grounds Yellow Post Sites
  • Roads: Thomas Hunting Grounds Road (1N12), Morton Springs Road (1S13) and Warm Springs Road (1S12)

Oak Glen is about 25 miles east of San Bernardino. The El Dorado Fire is near the burn scar left by this summer's Apple Fire in nearby Cherry Valley.

The fire broke out during a Labor Day weekend of extreme heat with temperatures well into the 100s and low humidity levels. Similar conditions are expected into this week. 

It has been a brutal summer for firefighters in California, primarily due monstrous complexes of fires burning in the Greater Bay Area.

CAL FIRE reported nearly 6,000 wildfires from the start of the year through the end of August. Those fires have burned well over 1 million acres. Last year at this time, the agency reported 3,673 fires that burned less than 30,000 acres.

California’s five-year average for the same period is 4,162 fires and 309,000 acres. 

Some of the evacuation orders for Oak Glen have been lifted, but 3,000 people are still evacuated. Kim Tobin reports for NBC LA at 11 p.m. Saturday Sept. 5, 2020.
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