Oregon State Police say they have obtained cellphone video filmed by one of the teenagers who watched as a 15-year-old Vancouver boy threw a smokebomb into dry brush from the Eagle Creek Trail, igniting a fire that is still burning in the Columbia River Gorge.
OSP Capt. Bill Fugate says the agency will release the video when the investigation concludes and when the criminal case is finished in court. But that outcome, he says, will hinge on whether a district attorney decides to file charges.
Fugate says OSP does not plan to file charges or make an arrest, but will pass on its findings to the district attorneys in Multnomah County, Hood River County, and Skamania County in Washington.
Although all three counties have seen damage from the fire, the firecracker sparked the blaze in Hood River County, so District Attorney John Sewell would probably decide whether or not to charge any of the teenagers with a crime, Fugate says.
Liz FitzGerald, a Portland hiker who first alerted police to the fire, told WW on Sept. 5 that the teenagers on Eagle Creek trail were taking cellphone footage of the 15-year-old throwing fireworks.
Today, OSP confirmed it obtained that video. Police did not say whether they confiscated the video at the scene when they detained the teenagers, or whether it was obtained later.
Investigators have reported that the teenagers involved in the incident that ignited the Eagle Creek Fire have been cooperative with police, Fugate says.
OSP is trying to wrap up the investigation "as quickly as possible," Fugate says, but there is no firm timeline for when OSP will give its evidence over to the district attorneys. "There are a lot of loose ends."
The Eagle Creek Fire has burned through 33,328 acres of the Columbia River Gorge. Firefighters have the blaze 7 percent contained.
More than 2,000 hazardous trees have been counted along the closed stretch of Interstate 84, and officials expect to find thousands more by the time the fire is extinguished, says Traci Weaver, a spokeswoman for the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.