Canadian News Jun 9, 2021 6:07 PM EST

Gender reveal party explosive device sparks wildfire in northern Alberta

A gender reveal party in northern Alberta ended with a bang after an exploding target set off a wildfire.

Gender reveal party explosive device sparks wildfire in northern Alberta
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A gender reveal party in northern Alberta ended with a bang after an exploding target set off a wildfire, CP24 reports.

The party, which took place on May 31, was located about 10 kilometres west of Fort McMurray, said wildfire information officer Travis Fairweather.

The exploding target was filled with either blue or pink powder to correspond with the baby’s gender.

The fire started by the device grew to about half the size of a Canadian Football League field. 10 woodland firefighters were dispatched to assist local firefighters with the blaze.

A $600 fine was issued, with Fairweather adding that a person could also be charged with the cost of fighting the fire.

Fairweather said that written permission is required in Alberta to use fireworks or exploding targets, and that there were enough incidents of exploding targets to warrant an amendment in 2017 to allow fines and the requirement of approval for usage.

"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," said Fairweather. "We were seeing enough of these exploding targets that it did require us to change the Forest Prairie Protection Act."

According to Fairweather, this is the third wildfire caused by exploding targets this season, but not all cases were gender reveal parties.

Despite the 2020 fire season being a quiet one, according to Fairweather, the percentage of human-caused wildfires increased significantly in contrast to prior years.

"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," writes CP24.

"We'd like to see those numbers come down," said Fairweather.

Multiple fires in recent years have been sparked across North America by devices like this at gender reveal parties.

In a recent example, a large fire was started east of Los Angelos by a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device. One firefighter died fighting the blaze, named the El Dorado Fire.

The Fort McMurray wildfire also marks five years since "the beast" forced nearly 90,000 people to flee as the fire swallowed up thousands of buildings.

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