The teen responsible for the 2017 Eagle Creek wildfire in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon has been ordered by a judge to pay restitution of $36 million. The Eagle Creek wildfire burned nearly 50,000 acres for almost three months through Oregon and Washington during fall 2017.
— The Oregonian (@Oregonian) May 21, 2018
According to The Oregonian, “Hood River County Circuit Judge John A. Olson wrote in an opinion released Monday that the court awards restitution totaling about $36,618,330 on behalf of Eagle Creek fire victims including the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon Department of Transportation. Olson also noted that the court could appoint a supervising authority or agency to develop a payment plan for the teen.”
The 15-year-old from Vancouver, Washington admitted earlier this year to throwing two fireworks in Eagle Creek Canyon on Sept. 2 when flames spread quickly. Referred to in court documents simply as “A.B.” because of the anger he caused among victims of the fire, the teenager was sentenced in February to five years of probation and 1,920 hours of community service with the Forest Service.
He also was ordered to write apology letters to 152 people trapped on the Eagle Creek trail because of the fire, the city of Cascade Locks, the Forest Service, Oregon State Parks, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission, and many others.
“I’m satisfied the restitution ordered in this case bears a sufficient relationship to the gravity of the offenses for which the youth was adjudicated,” Judge Olson wrote in his opinion released today.
While noting it was fair, Judge Olson also admitted that it does not necessarily expect the teen to pay the sum in full. A payment schedule can be set up and state law also allows payments to stop after 10 years if a juvenile defendant completes probation, doesn’t commit other offenses and complies with payment plans.
Some of the recipients of A.B.’s restitution amount include Oregon State Parks ($31,550.90), Oregon State Fire Marshall ($1.6 million), the U.S. Forest Service ($21 million) and others.
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