While a Fire Captain says it's "early" to speculate, "California law does provide that if somebody were responsible for starting a fire which killed a person, they could be charged with manslaughter."
The family blamed with accidentally starting the El Dorado fire during a gender reveal party could be charged with manslaughter after a firefighter was killed fighting the blaze on Thursday.
The fatality was the El Dorado fire's first. The identity of the firefighter has not yet been revealed.
"Obviously, there's a lot that has to be determined before we speculate on whether they could be charged with manslaughter — but California law does provide that if somebody were responsible for starting a fire which killed a person, they could be charged with manslaughter," Bennet Milloy of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection told TooFab on Friday.
Milloy then pointed to the 2006 Ezperanza fire, in which five California firefighters lost their lives.
"In cases like the Ezperanza fire, which was very different than this fire; an arsonist that actually knew what he was doing was charged with murder for killing the firefighters that died there. But that is obviously different, because he maliciously set that fire."
In that case, convicted arsonist Raymond Lee Oyler was sentenced to death.
Cal Fire believe the El Dorado was accidentally sparked by a "smoke generating pyrotechnic device" — designed to emit either blue or pink smoke — set off during a gender reveal party on September 5.
It has since burned up almost 20,000 acres of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, and is still only 66 per cent contained.
At the time, Cal Fire warned: "Those responsible for starting fires due to negligence or illegal activity can be held financially and criminally responsible."
In his statement today, Milloy added, "To speculate on those charges, it is early on; the sheriff has to do a death investigation to determine the cause of that firefighter's death, and whether it's related to the fire."
If that is the case, "then there could be other legal implications."
The family involved in the gender reveal party has been fully cooperating with authorities so far; no charges have yet been brought.
At least 30 people have already died in other fires currently devastating the US West Coast.