Teen who started Columbia River Gorge fire last summer ordered t - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Teen who started Columbia River Gorge fire last summer ordered to pay $37 million in restitution

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HOOD RIVER, Ore. - -

A Vancouver, Washington teenager who admitted to throwing fireworks in Eagle Creek Canyon last summer, causing a major wildfire in the Columbia River Gorge, has been ordered to pay nearly $37 million in restitution. 

It's unlikely the boy, whose identity has not been released by authorities, will ever cover the entire $37 million to cover costs of firefighting, repair and restoration to the gorge and damage to homes, but he will at least have to pay for the next decade. Judge John A. Olson said the boy can set up a payment plan, and those can be halted after 10 years as long as he complies, completes probation and doesn't commit other crimes. 

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 kilometers).

The fire caused evacuations, an extended shutdown of a major interstate highway and devastation to a major outdoor tourist attraction.

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.

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.

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