Judge: Teen Must Repay $37 Million for Starting Oregon Fire

A teenager who started a massive fire in the northwestern U.S. state of Oregon has been ordered to pay nearly $37 million in restitution over the next decade.

The 15-year-old admitted earlier this year that he threw two fireworks in Eagle Creek Canyon on Sept. 2. The fast-spreading fire caused evacuations, an extended shutdown of a major interstate highway, and devastation to a major outdoor tourist attraction.

A district judge on Monday ordered the teen to set up a payment plan to reimburse the victims, including the U.S. Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Transportation, $36,618,330.24 to cover the costs of firefighting, repair and restoration to the gorge, and damage to homes.

The restitution is solely the responsibility of the teen, and not his parents, who are immigrants from Ukraine.

Last week, defense attorneys called for a “reasonable and rational” penalty, calling the $37 million sought an “absurd” amount for the child.

The judge said if the teen makes agreed-to payments, completes probation and doesn’t commit other crimes, he can stop after 10 years.

The teenager was also sentenced to community service and had to write more than 150 letters of apology to those affected by the fire that burned 194 square kilometers.

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area attracts more than 3 million tourists a year and holds North America’s largest concentration of waterfalls.