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Couple pleads guilty over gender reveal party that sparked California wildfire

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A California couple whose gender-reveal party caused a fatal California wildfire pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter on Friday.

Refugio Jimenez Jr and his partner, Angela Renee Jimenez, also pleaded guilty to several other counts in connection to a the El Dorado fire, which they set off at a ranch park in Yucaipa, California, on 5 September 2020, when a firework used in a photo shoot set the dry grass on fire.

The couple attempted to put out the flames with bottled water, and called 911, but strong winds spread the fire too quickly to control, the Associated Press reported.

One of the firefighters who arrived to battle the wildfire, Charlie Morton, 39, was killed. The fire ran through 7,050 acres and forced 3,000 residents to evacuate at the time, CBS reported.

In 2021, the couple was indicted for 30 crimes in connection with the fire, including involuntary manslaughter. On Friday, the San Bernardino county district attorney's office announced a plea deal between the couple and prosecutors.

"Resolving the case was never going to be a win," said the San Bernardino county district attorney, Jason Anderson, in a statement. "The defendants' reckless conduct had tremendous impact on land, properties, emergency response resources, the displacement of entire communities, and resulted in the tragic death of forest service wildland firefighter Charles Morton."

Refugio Jimenez Jr pleaded guilty to one charge of involuntary manslaughter for Morton's death and two counts of recklessly causing a fire in an inhabited structure, all felony counts. He will serve a year in jail and two years of probation, and complete 200 hours of community service.

Angela Renee Jimenez pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing fire to property and must complete a year of summary probation along with 400 hours of community service.

The couple is also ordered to pay $1,789,972 in restitution to victims.

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