Earlier this week, news outlets published the results of a public-records investigation into what caused a massive wildfire in Arizona’s Santa Rita foothills last year. The video footage procured by Arizona Daily Star reporters confirms what those who’d been following the case feared: The blaze began with a giant eruption of blue powder.
A U.S. Border Patrol agent and then-expecting father was attempting to create a spectacle out of the revelation of his baby-to-be’s gender, so he shot a rifle into a target filled with an explosive combination of oxidizers and fuel. As one journalist put it, the plan “was doomed from the start”: The area had been experiencing less-than-average rainfall and unusually high winds. Upon exploding into a plume of cerulean-colored smoke—it was a boy!— the target set off a blaze that ravaged the surrounding mesquite trees and yellow grassland. The man’s gender-reveal party ended up burning 47,000 acres of parched state land, and cost $8.2 million to extinguish.
While this man and other parents-to-be have approached lethal extremes in pursuit of a legendary gender reveal for their unborn baby (see also: the Louisiana couple who recruited a 10-foot alligator named Sally to help them divulge the surprise), most participants in the gender-reveal trend have more manageable celebrations. Take the 20-year-old Juliann Mladineo. Just a few months into her first pregnancy, Mladineo was convinced she was having a girl. She and her 21-year-old boyfriend had initially decided to hold off on learning the baby’s sex until birth, and the mystery made the already special pregnancy process “extremely exciting,” Mladineo says.