Circuit Judge Mr. John Olson of Hood River, Oregon, was bound to make the world press when he issued an order to a Vancouver teen, whose identity is being kept secret due to public anger over the events, to repay some $37 million in damages for the forest fire he started last year.
Even though it is unlikely that the boy will ever be able to pay back the amount, he must pay all he can over the next ten years according to a payment plan.
After pleading guilty to the reckless burning of public and private property, the boy had already been sentenced to probation and community service.
The boy set off the massive wildfire last September when he tossed two fireworks into Eagle Creek Canyon. In the end, it resulted in major evacuations, a lengthy shutdown of an interstate highway as well as severe damage to a local tourist attraction. The teen did apologize and sent over 150 apology letters to those affected by his actions.
Judge John A. Olson stated: “In short, I’m satisfied that the restitution ordered in this case bears a sufficient relationship to the gravity of the offenses for which the youth was adjudicated.”
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Oregon teen ordered to pay $36.6 million in forest fire damage costs <a href="https://t.co/EbYW0IAflz">https://t.co/EbYW0IAflz</a></p>— WKYT (@WKYT) <a href="https://twitter.com/WKYT/status/998827054719209472?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 22, 2018</a></blockquote>
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He claimed that the sum of $37 million “is clearly proportionate to the offense because it does not exceed the financial damages caused by the youth.”
The lawyer for the 15-year-old perpetrator claimed that the amount his client was ordered to pay back was both “absurd” and “absolutely silly.”
According to the court, the funds would be distributed to the US Forest Service, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Oregon State Fire Marshal and the Union Pacific Railroad.