The Eagle Creek wildfire burns on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge near Cascade Locks, Ore., on Sept. 5, 2017. (Genna Martin / seattlepi.com via AP)

Teen must repay $37M for starting Oregon wildfire

A teenager who started a major wildfire in Oregon has been ordered to pay restitution

A teenager who started a major wildfire in the scenic Columbia River Gorge in Oregon has been ordered to pay restitution for at least the next decade, though it’s unlikely the boy will ever cover his nearly $37 million bill.

The Oregonian reports that Hood River County Circuit Judge John A. Olson issued the opinion on Monday, awarding the restitution totalling $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 15-year-old from Vancouver, Washington, earlier this year acknowledged wrongdoing and said he threw two fireworks in Eagle Creek Canyon on Sept. 2 when flames spread quickly. The fire caused evacuations, an extended shutdown of a major interstate highway and devastation to a major outdoor tourist attraction.

The judge’s order notes that the boy can set up a payment plan, though payments can be halted after 10 years as long as he complies, completes probation and doesn’t commit other crimes.

At a hearing last week, the boy’s lawyer urged for a “reasonable and rational” penalty, calling the $37 million sought an “absurd” amount for the child. The restitution is solely the responsibility of the teen, and not his parents, who came to the U.S. from Ukraine.

Olson called it “an extraordinary amount” and then deferred on a separate restitution order because he wanted more time to review the case. The judge said the largest figure he could find for prior juvenile restitution cases in Oregon was $114,000.

The teen in February pleaded 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 that burned 75 square miles (194 square kilometres).

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area attracts more than 3 million tourists a year and holds North America’s largest concentration of waterfalls. The fast-moving blaze ravaged popular hiking trails and marred stunning vistas.

State law allows the Oregon Department of Revenue to garnishee the teen’s bank accounts or paychecks. If he’s due refunds on his tax returns, the state could take those. If he wins the lottery, the state also could collect all of his winnings.

Anger at the boy was so intense that authorities withheld his name to protect his safety. He’s listed in court papers as A.B.

Related: Smoke in Southern Interior from U.S. wildfires

Related: Smoke from wildfires sinks into the valley

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Parent concerned over privacy breach is a candidate for Chilliwack school board

Brian Mielke said sharing of student names with U.S. research firm shows trustees disregarding law

Chilliwack athletes run in the rain at first cross-country race

Dozens of elementary/middle/high schoolers tackled a mucky course next to Twin Rinks last Thursday.

Fraser River First Nations say they aren’t getting their share of sockeye

Shortage is a result of decisions made by DFO, not a shortage of sockeye, complaint says

Chilliwack Chiefs benefit from BCHL Showcase exposure

Carter Wilkie’s first BCHL goal Saturday against Wenatchee earned him talks with several NCAA scouts.

Surging Okanagan Sun stop slumping Valley Huskers

A blocked punt set the tone for the Sun in a BC Football Conference game at the Apple Bowl.

Video: Flyers new mascot ‘Gritty’ a bearded, googly-eyed terror

The Philadelphia Flyers unveiled their new mascot Monday, and as one would expect of the team that gave us the “Broad Street Bullies,” he’s far from cuddly.

Edmonton cannabis company revenues more than triples to $19.1 million

Aurora Cannabis revenues more than triple in fourth quarter

B.C. pharmacist suspended for giving drugs with human placenta

RCMP had samples of the seized substances tested by Health Canada

Seattle one step closer to NHL after arena plan approved

Seattle City Council unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena

Harvest Moon to light up B.C. skies with an ‘autumn hue’

It’s the first moon after the autumn equinox

Hockey league gets $1.4M for assistance program after Humboldt Broncos crash

Program will help players, families, coaches and volunteers after the shock of the deadly crash

Canada has removed six out of 900 asylum seekers already facing U.S. deportation

Ottawa had said the ‘overwhelming majority’ had been removed

Appeal pipeline decision but consult Indigenous communities, Scheer says

The federal appeals court halted the Trans Mountain expansion last month

Most Read