SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. - A press conference held by the San Bernardino County District Attorney was held on July 20, 2021 in San Bernardino to discuss how the D.A. will move forward with El Dorado Fire criminal case. A Criminal Grand Jury returned a True Bill against Refugio Manual Jimenez, Jr. and Angelina Renee Jimenez for conduct that caused the massive fire in September 2020.
To recap that moment in time: A married couple had started last year's deadly El Dorado Fire with a gender-reveal firework. The couple has been charged with involuntary manslaughter. The man, Refugio Manual Jimenez, Jr. and woman, Angelina Renee Jimenez, have been charged with eight felonies and 22 misdemeanors. The wildfire claimed the life of a U.S. Forest Service hot shot crew boss and additionally had injured 13 other firefighters.
The couple has pleaded not guilty to all of their charges charges. The fire burned more than 22,500 acres of land in San Bernardino County, destroying five homes, and damaging four others. The incident had started at El Dorado Ranch Park in Yucaipa on September 5, 2021 where the couple had used a smoke-making pyrotechnic for a gender-reveal photoshoot.
Pursuant to the Grand Jury findings, an indictment has been filed against Mr. and Mrs. Jimenez for the following charges: one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, three felony counts of recklessly causing a fire with great bodily injury, four felony counts of recklessly causing a fire to inhabited structures, and twenty-two misdemeanor counts of recklessly causing a fire to property of another. Today the indictment was unsealed, the defendants were arraigned, entered pleas of not guilty and will return to court on 9/15/21. Although the District Attorney’s Office requested $50,000 bail for each defendant, the Court released them on their own recognizance.
About 6 agencies were involved in containing, extinguishing, and investigating the El Dorado Fire. The district attorney's office in a statement thanked the United States Forest Service, Cal Fire, the San Bernardino County Fire Department, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Division and the City of Yucaipa for their investigative efforts in the case.
Over the course of four days, 34 witnesses were called to testify and 434 exhibits were presented. This evidence had been the basis of the indictment against the defendants. There is a total of 30 charges containing 22 victims.
The D.A. emphasized that it had been imperative that every investigation be completed within both Federal and State agencies to provide a full and fair presentation to the members of the community that made up the criminal Grand Jury.
HDdailynews.com reached out to the San Bernardino County District Attorney Office to get clarification on the amount of time both defendants could be receiving. The defendants could face nearly 20 years behind bars.