21st November 12:22 AM
Judge orders teen to pay more than USD$36 million for starting bush fire
By Semi Turaga
Wednesday 23/05/2018
The fire in Oregon burned for nearly three months [Photo:BBC News]

A judge has ordered a teenager to pay more than USD$36 million after he admitted starting a huge forest fire that raged for months in the US state of Oregon.

Hood River County Judge John Olson ruled the boy must also write apology notes to 152 people who were trapped on hiking trails.

The Eagle Creek fire burned for nearly three months in the scenic Columbia River Gorge, destroying several homes.

A lawyer for the 15‑year‑old called the amount "absurd" and "absolutely silly".

In February, the boy ‑ who is not named in court documents ‑ admitted to throwing a firework on 2 September 2017 into the tinder‑dry Eagle Creek Canyon ‑ about 50 miles (80km) from Portland.

The resulting engulfed 48,000 acres and cost fire crews $18m to fight.

He pleaded guilty to eight counts of reckless burning of public and private property, two counts of depositing burning materials on forest land, as well criminal mischief and reckless endangerment of others.

He was also ordered to serve five years of probation and perform 1,920 hours of community service for the US Forest Service.

The court acknowledged in its ruling that the teen will not be able to pay the full amount.

But Judge Olson cited "safety valves" in state law that allows juvenile offenders to stop payments after 10 years if they finish probation and do not commit any other crimes.


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