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

Fraser Valley Express doubles weekend and holiday bus service

Four new round trips to be added, starting Sept. 4

Mother charged with homicide of Langley seven-year-old

Aaliyah Rosa’s 36-year-old mother charged with second degree murder: IHIT

VIDEO: Child airlifted to hospital after crash in rural Langley

Jaws of life were used to cut off the roof of a car and free its occupants from a two-car accident.

LETTER: Medical care in Langley and beyond deplorable

The shortage of family doctors shouldn’t exist. Who’s really to blame?

Langley netminder makes ‘unbelievable’ saves in draw against Seattle

Trinity Western University women’s soccer team battled to a 0-0 draw to Seattle, while boys fell 2-0.

VIDEO: Lower Mainland air quality to hit ‘extreme risk’

Smoke is pouring in from the interior B.C. and wildfires down in the U.S.

PHOTOS: Olympian Patrick Chan helps B.C.’s ‘SuperChefs’ celebrate 10th anniversary

Former figure skater among those at event Friday in Surrey

Smaller B.C. bus service prepares to replace Greyhound

Kootenay-to-Okanagan run would require online reservations

Police ID Surrey man killed in fight at McDonald’s

Investigators ask anyone who knew Lakhwinder Singh Bal to speak with police, to help determine timeline ahead of ‘homicide’

Despite threats, Soldiers of Odin a no show at B.C. tent city

Nanaimo’s Discontent City held a counter rally on Sunday

5 to start your day

A man killed in Surrey, smoke continues to hang over the Lower Mainland and more

Trudeau formally announces he’ll run again in 2019

PM Justin Trudeau gears up to run in next year’s election

Smoke from B.C. wildfires prompts air quality advisories across Western Canada

A massive cloud of smoke hangs over B.C. and Alberta due to wildfires

Pope on sex abuse: “We showed no care for the little ones”

In response to the Pennsylvania report, Francis labeled the misconduct “crimes”

Most Read