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Couple charged in 2020 El Dorado Fire sparked by gender reveal

Authorities say the family set off a smoke-generating pyrotechnic in dry grass at a park near Yucaipa, east of Los Angeles.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — A couple whose gender reveal ceremony sparked a California wildfire that killed a firefighter last year have been charged with involuntary manslaughter. 

The San Bernardino County district attorney says Refugio Manuel Jimenez Jr. and Angela Renee Jimenez pleaded not guilty Monday to charges involving the El Dorado Fire. 

The fire killed firefighter Charles Morton last September. Authorities say the family set off a smoke-generating pyrotechnic in dry grass at a park near Yucaipa, east of Los Angeles. 

The blaze injured 13 other people and forced the evacuations of hundreds of residents. 

It destroyed five homes and 15 other buildings. 

Read more on this story from the AP.

WILDFIRE PREPS

According to Cal Fire, 2020 was one of the most severe fire seasons on record as 9,917 wildfires burned 4.2 million acres. Over 9,000 structures were destroyed, and 31 people (civilians and firefighters) were killed. 

California also experienced its first "Gigafire" because of the August Complex Fire, burning over 1 million acres by itself. Four of California's top five largest wildfires in state history happened in 2020. 

If you live in a wildfire-prone zone, Cal Fire suggests creating a defensible space around your home. Defensible space is an area around a building in which vegetation and other debris are completely cleared. At least 100 feet is recommended.

WATCH: What you need to know to prepare, stay safe for wildfires

The Department of Homeland Security suggests assembling an emergency kit that has important documents, N95 respirator masks, supplies to grab with you if you’re forced to leave at a moment’s notice. The agency also suggests signing up for local warning system notifications and know your community’s evacuation plans best to prepare yourself and your family in cases of wildfires.

Some counties use Nixle alerts to update residents on severe weather, wildfires, and other news. To sign up, visit www.nixle.com or text your zip code to 888777 to start receiving alerts. 

Read more: Are you wildfire ready? Here's what to do to prepare for fire season.

PG&E customers can also subscribe to alerts via text, email, or phone call. If you're a PG&E customer, visit the Profile & Alerts section of your account to register.

WATCH MORE: California Wildfires: Tamarack, Dixie, and Vacaville fire updates | July 20th, 2021