Gender reveal party triggers ‘godawful’ explosion, earthquake reports

An explosive package filled with coloured powder detonates in this still image captured from video in April 2017, near Tucson, Arizona. US Forest Service

It’s not an earthquake. It’s just an over-the-top family with a baby on the way.

A massive explosion rocked New Hampshire and parts of neighbouring Massachusetts on Tuesday, triggering earthquake reports and anger in what police say was an ill-advised gender-reveal announcement.

The epicentre of the gender-reveal blast was a quarry in Kingston, N.H., where police say a family detonated 80 pounds of Tannerite, an over-the-counter explosive used for firearm practice.

“It was earth-shaking,” one Kingston resident told NBC4.

“We heard this godawful blast,” said Sara Taglieri, who lives in a home near the quarry. “It knocked pictures off our walls.”

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Taglieri was one of several people who reported the “ridiculous” stunt to police on Tuesday.

“It cracked foundations of our neighbours’ (homes),” her husband Matt said. “I don’t know how that’s right.”

“I’m all up for silliness and whatnot, but that was extreme,” Sara Taglieri added.

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The person who bought the explosives is cooperating with police, authorities told local station WMUR.

Tannerite can be dangerous and destructive if not used properly, said Sgt. Jeff Dade of the Kingston Police Bomb Squad.

“If used improperly or irresponsibly, the consequences could be very serious,” he said. “For example, if you are doing it near private property where the explosion could damage property, start a fire, wildfire something of that nature, there are statutes that pertain to all of that.”

Police say they’re investigating potential building damage caused by the blast and are considering charges. They’ve also seen video of the stunt.

Gender-reveal parties started with stunts involving coloured cake and balloons roughly 10 years ago. They’ve since become a bit of a scourge as people have tried to elevate their stunts in new and dangerous ways.

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Several people, including a grandmother and a dad-to-be, have been killed in gender-reveal explosions in recent years. Two people died in a gender-reveal-related plane crash earlier this year, and another escaped a fiery fate during a gender-reveal burnout involving his car’s tires in Australia in 2018.

An Arizona man is expected to spend the rest of his life paying back some US$8 million in damages caused by his own gender-reveal stunt in 2017, when he detonated Tannerite and ignited a wildfire for the stunt.


Click to play video: 'Baby gender reveal goes awry, starts massive wildfire that caused $8 m in damages'
Baby gender reveal goes awry, starts massive wildfire that caused $8 m in damages

Parenting blogger Jenna Karvunidis, who is credited with starting the gender-reveal trend, has said she regrets introducing the idea to the world.

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“I’ve felt a lot of mixed feelings about my random contribution to the culture,” she wrote in 2019. “Who cares what gender the baby is?”

In this case, the massive explosion was an over-the-top attempt to announce a baby boy, Kingston police say.

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