Gender reveal party blast sparks 10-acre wildfire in Florida

Violation pending

A mishap during a gender reveal party sparked a 10-acre brush fire. (Brevard County Fire Rescue)

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A gender reveal party mishap in Grant-Valkaria sparked a brush fire that burned 10 acres last weekend — and the Florida Forest Service has issued a notice of violation, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

The fast-moving blaze — which threatened two nearby homes — was triggered by Tannerite, an explosive rifle target used for shooting practice, a FFS incident report said.

On March 27, Brevard County implemented a ban on open burning, such as bonfires, campfires and trash burning, because of ongoing drought conditions.

The Grant-Valkaria gender reveal party occurred the next day, on March 28. The brush fire broke out shortly after 3 p.m. FFS Orlando District officials noted the temperature reached 93 degrees that afternoon, according to the report.

Fire cause: “Gender reveal with Tannerite target,” the FFS report said.

The brush fire broke out in the 4100 block of Adkins Avenue, a short, rural street off the south side of Valkaria Road. The landowner lives in Nashville, Tennessee, the FFS report said.

Seven FFS vehicles descended on the wildfire, including four wildland engines, two forestry dozers and a personnel transport vehicle. Firefighters brought the blaze under control within two hours.

BCFR personnel also responded to the blaze.

“With our increased workload with EMS calls, primarily potential COVID responses, wildfires can take away valuable resources away and tie them up for hours,” Brevard County Fire Rescue Chief Mark Schollmeyer said.

"Use common sense. Although the burn ban doesn’t cover explosives, we need to be mindful of what something as seemingly innocent as this can cause," Schollmeyer said.

An FFS supervisor later issued a notice of violation stemming from the fire, and the notice was mailed Friday to the Orlando district office. An FFS dispatcher in Orlando did not have further information available Sunday because the notice had not yet arrived in the mail.

The Grant-Valkaria gender reveal party fire caught the attention of CNN Saturday.

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index reached 535 Sunday in Brevard, warning of imminent threat of wildfires because of dry conditions and little rain in the forecast. The countywide burn ban remains in effect.

"We all need to take extra precautions when conditions start getting drier. This rain today will help somewhat, but will dry out quickly over a couple of days," Schollmeyer said.

“We can all take simple steps to prevent wildfires; refrain from burning trash or yards waste, refrain from using fireworks, and make sure outdoor power equipment including ATVs have spark arresters on them to prevent fires from backfire incidents,” he said.