The Vancouver, Wash. teen who sparked the 49,000-acre Eagle Creek fire last summer by throwing a firecracker off a cliff could be required to pay over $36 million in restitution to 11 different parties.
Oregon Public Broadcasting this morning reported on the decision facing Hood River County Judge John Olson.
At a hearing this morning, Olson announced the possible fines the teenager could face. The judge is expected to issue a decision as early as Friday.
The U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon State Fire Marshall, Union Pacific Railroad, Oregon State Parks, Allstate and four private property owners all report massive losses due to fire damage. The U.S Forest Service alone has reported damages totaling around $21 million.
The unnamed 15-year-old was not present in court and was instead represented by his lawyer Jack Morris.
In February, the teen pleaded guilty to starting the blaze. He was sentenced five years of probation and 1,920 hours of community service with the U.S. Forest Service. In an apology he read aloud to the court he said, "I apologize with all my heart to everyone in the Gorge. I am truly sorry about the loss of nature that occurred because of my careless action."
Morris, the boy's lawyer, argued today that the large fine is "absurd" and unconstitutional when applied to a juvenile defendant.
Attorneys for the state disagree. Hood River District Attorney John Sewell justified the large fine on the grounds that judges can forgive juvenile defendant's requirement to pay restitution after 10 years, if certain criteria are met.
"It is an extraordinary amount of restitution," Olson said, according to OPB. "It is an extraordinary amount of loss."