Teen Ordered to Pay $37 Million for Starting Wildfire in Oregon
A teen from Vancouver, Washington, who started a major wildfire in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon has been ordered to pay restitution over the next decade in the amount of $37 million.
In order to cover the costs of firefighting, repair and restoration to the tourist area of the gorge and damages to local homes, a judge ordered the teen to pay $36,618,330.24, according to The Oregonian. The judge acknowledged that the teen would likely never pay the sum in full. Victims of the wildfire included Union Pacific Railroad, Oregon Department of Transportation, US Forest Service as well as a number of other entities. State law allows Oregon to garnishee the teen's bank accounts or paychecks. Oregon is also allowed to take the teen's winnings if he wins the lottery; the state can also collect his refunds on tax returns.
In court, the 15-year-old pleaded guilty to reckless burning of public and private property as well as other charges including throwing two fireworks in Eagle Creek Canyon. The resulting wildfire burned 75 square miles of forest, hiking trails, a major interstate highway and devastated an outdoor tourist attraction.
The judge said that the teen can set up a payment plan to chip away at the $37 million fine; payments can be halted after 10 years as long as he complies, completes probation and doesn't commit other crimes. The teen was sentenced to community service and probation. Additionally, he was ordered to write 152 letters of apology to those affected by the fire.