Teen Who Started Oregon Fire Ordered to Pay $37 Million

Video screen capture. YouTube

The Eagle Creek Fire, which consumed nearly 50,000 acres, was started when the teen threw fireworks into the forested canyon.

The last few years have been particularly dramatic for wildfires – a situation which hasn't been helped by humans. Like, teen humans who throw lit fireworks into wide dry swaths of forest.

The Eagle Creek fire was started on September 2, 2017 in the Columbia River Gorge, before hopping over the Columbia River into Washington state, near Archer Mountain. The fire was destructive and disruptive. In addition to all of the forest that was burned, at one point 153 hikers were trapped and unable to get back to civilization; salmon fisheries were forced to release their fish early; buildings were threatened and hundreds were forced into evacuation. The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area draws millions of tourists a year and is home to North America's largest concentration of waterfalls.

Now, Associated Press reports that "Hood River County Circuit Judge John A. Olson has issued an opinion awarding a restitution of $36,618,330.24 to cover the costs of firefighting, repair and restoration to the gorge and damage to homes. Victims include the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon Department of Transportation. The AP writes that the 15-year-old from Vancouver, Washington, earlier this year acknowledged wrongdoing and said he threw two fireworks in Eagle Creek Canyon."

The AP notes that the teen pled "guilty to reckless burning of public and private property and other charges. Olson sentenced him to community service and probation, and the boy had to write more than 150 letters of apology to those affected by the fire."

Obviously, it is unlikely the boy will be able to pay the total; a consideration that is built in to the judge's plan. The order notes that the payments can be stopped after 10 years as long as the teen complies, completes probation and doesn't commit other crimes. State law would allow for the teen's bank accounts or paychecks to be garnished; as well as his tax returns – should he win the lottery, he's tough out of luck.

Anger at the teen was so severe that his name was withheld from court documents to protect his safety. Let it be a warning to teens with matches and fireworks everywhere ... and adults for that matter too.

Via SF Gate