15-year-old who started Oregon wildfire that wiped out 75 square miles, ordered to pay $36 million as judge issues him payment plan
Hood River County Circuit Judge John A. Olson awarded the restitution totaling $36,618,330.24 on Monday to the 15-year-old boy, in an attempt to cover the costs.
A judge has ordered the teenager who started a wildfire in the Columbia River George in Oregon in 2017 to pay restitution for at least the next decade to cover his nearly $37 million bill, according to reports.
The wildfire, which reportedly began because of fireworks, resulted in massive evacuations and an extended shutdown of a major interstate and devastation to an outdoor tourist attraction.
Hood River County Circuit Judge John A. Olson awarded the restitution totaling $36,618,330.24 on Monday to the 15-year-old boy, in an attempt to cover the costs of firefighting, repair and restoration to the gorge and other damage inflicted to nearby homes.
The victims of the wildfire include the United States Forest Service and Oregon Department of Transportation, The Oregonian reported.
The teenager from Vancouver, Washington acknowledged his wrongdoing earlier this year and admitted that he threw two fireworks in Eagle Creek Canyon on September 2, 2017 when flames spread swiftly spread in the region. Authorities have said that they are keeping the boy and his family's identity a secret, fearing a public backlash on them.
The Oregonion described the boy as a "churchgoing snowboarder". His mother is a stay-at-home mom and his father is a cook.
"This is a trauma for him. It was his mistake," the teen's mother reportedly said in Russian, acknowledging his mistake.
The judge, while announcing his order, laid out a payment plan for the teenager, adding that the payments can be halted after 10 years as long as he complies to the terms and completes probation and does not commit any other crimes, reports state.
The boy's lawyer, however, urged for a "reasonable and rational" penalty at a hearing last week and said that the $37 million amount sought from the child is an "absurd" amount.
Reports state that the teenager, who came to the US from Ukraine, is solely responsible for the restitution and not his parents.
The judge also called the amount "extraordinary" and reportedly deferred on a separate restitution order because he wanted more time to review the teenager's case. Olson added that the largest figure he could find for prior juvenile restitution cases in Oregon was $114,000.
The teenager was sentenced to five years of probation in February in addition to 1,920 hours of community service with the U.S. Forest Service.
Reports state that the judge sentenced the teenager to community service and probation and he was also asked to write more than 150 letters of apology to the victims of the wildfire.