Teen who started wildfire ordered by judge to pay $36 million

A teen who started a massive wildfire in Oregon has been ordered by a judge to pay nearly $37 million over the next decade.

Hood River County Circuit Judge John Olson awarded the restitution totaling $36,618,330.24 to cover the costs of firefighting, repair and restoration, according to the Oregonian.

"Having reviewed the arguments presented by the parties, the court is persuaded that an award of more than $36 million in restitution does not violate either the state or federal constitution," the judge wrote in Monday's decision, according to the newspaper.

The 15-year-old boy's lawyer had asked last week for a "reasonable and rational" penalty, calling the nearly $37 million an "absurd" amount. The restitution is solely the responsibility of the teen, and not his parents, who came from Ukraine.

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Judge Olson admitted it was "an extraordinary amount." A payment plan could be stopped after 10 years if the boy complies with it and completes probation while staying out of legal trouble.

The teen. from Washington state, admitted he threw two fireworks in Eagle Creek Canyon on Sept. 2, and the flames spread quickly. He pleaded guilty in February to reckless burning of public and private property and other charges. He was sentenced by Judge Olson to community service and probation, and he had to write more than 150 letters of apology.

The wildfire burned 75 square miles in the scenic Columbia River Gorge, which attracts more than three million tourists a year.

Authorities withheld the name of the teen to protect his safety.

With News Wire Services