A court ruled that a teen who is behind a huge wildfire in Oregon’s Eagle Creek must pay $37 million for the damage caused. The payment must be done over one decade, but it is unclear how the teen will ever cover the bill.
According to The Oregonian, the $36,618,330.24 will cover the costs of fire crews, restoration to the natural scenery, and repair to the affected homes. Two of the entities that will receive compensation are the Oregon Department of Transportation and U.S. Forest Service.
The 15-year-old admitted that two fireworks he threw in Eagle Creek started the fire. The incident happened on Sept. 2, 2017. In the wake of the fire, several homes were evacuated, an interstate highway was shut down, and a popular tourist attraction was devastated.
Judge John A. Olson ordered the boy to come up with a payment plan. The plan will be put on hold after a decade if the teen doesn’t commit other crimes and completes probation.
An “Absurd” Penalty
The defense team urged the court to issue a penalty that is “reasonable and rational” for a 15-year-old. The $37 million fine was deemed “absurd”. The boy’s parents, who immigrated from Ukraine, will not have to pay a cent.
The largest penalty for a juvenile in the state of Oregon stands at $114,000.
Earlier this year, the defendant pleaded guilty to all charges. The judge put him on probation and issued a community service sentence. The teen was also ordered to write letters of apology to all those affected by the fire. He will have to write 150 letters so far.
Around 3 million tourists visit the Columbia River Gorge every year. The region includes the highest number of waterfalls per square mile in the U.S. The wildfire charred 75 square miles in the area.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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