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Gender reveal party ‘explodes’ into wildfire near Oliver

Good Samaritans jumped into action to put out the growing blaze on Mount Baldy

A gender reveal party gone wrong at Mount Baldy, near Oliver sparked a wildfire that was quickly extinguished by a group of locals.

Just in the nick of time, Good Samaritan Rob Iezzi and his friends were alerted to a rapidly-spreading blaze and immediately jumped into action on the afternoon of July 3.

“We were the first people on site and within five minutes at least 30 other people came to help,” said Iezzi. He was unsure if the people who started the fire stuck around.

“We all teamed up and got it out before it got too big,” said Iezzi.

Ironically, Iezzi and his wife Nicole, who together run the Pink Palace Bed and Breakfast at the Mt. Baldy resort, were hosting their annual Firesmart event on the weekend of the incident.

The group of Firesmart folk had meandered down the road for a swim in Jolly Lake when a woman driving a quad zoomed over and told them that there was a “huge fire just around the corner.”

Flames had sparked close to the Jolly Creek recreation site.

Iezzi and seven others immediately attacked the flames with all they had, which initially was just one shovel and determination. Soon, a group of 20 people showed up with some equipment such as shovels and rakes, and together, they extinguished the blaze.

After speaking to nearby campers, Iezzi suspects that the fire was started when an explosive target called tannerite was shot during the gender reveal party.

When hit, tannerite explodes with a puff of colour that can be customized, including pink and blue.

“Judging by all the pink powder, it was girl.”

The explosive is considered a Binary Exploding Target, which is currently banned in the Kamloops Fire Zone due to wildfire risk but is permitted in the South East Fire Zone. The location of the blaze, near Mt. Baldy, is just east of the fire zone border and falls under the jurisdiction of the South East Fire Zone.

The location of the fire is considered to be a “high” fire danger area. According to the BC Wildfire Service, forest fuels in the area are very dry and the fire risk is serious. The wildfire service warns that new fires may start easily, burn vigorously and challenge suppression efforts.

“Extreme caution must be used in any forest activities.”

Iezzi said “I thought it was just common sense not to blow things up in the woods during fire season.”

The Oliver Fire Department also had some choice words for those who put the area at risk of a wildfire.

“With fire ratings at ‘High to Extreme’ in the province, this should not be happening. Let’s use some fire smarts when out in our backcountry.”

In 2021, residents of the Mt. Baldy area were evacuated from their homes for weeks during Nk’Mip Creek wildfire, which was suspected to be human-caused.

To learn more about wildfires, the risk of fire in different areas across B.C. and how to protect the environment visit the BC Wildfire Service website.

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Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

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