A judge ruled that the teenage boy convicted for starting the Eagle Creek Fire that burned through the Columbia River Gorge last September must pay more than $36 million in restitution as part of his punishment.
Judge John A. Olson considered an argument by the boy's lawyer that the hefty bill was "absurd" and a cruel and unusual punishment. However, Olson concluded in a judgement Monday morning that "the restitution is clearly proportionate to the offense because it does not exceed the financial damages caused by the youth."
The 15-year-old, who has not been named in court documents, will pay the restitution on a schedule set by the Hood River Juvenile Department. After 10 years, if he has completed probation and avoided any other criminal charges, the court can consider forgiving the remaining debt.
The fire shut down trails and required emergency responders to evacuate people trapped by the blaze. It started when the boy threw a firework into dry brush from the trail.