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Teen who started Oregon's Eagle Creek Fire ordered to pay $36.6 million

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The teen who plead guilty to starting last year's destructive Eagle Creek Fire has been ordered to pay roughly $36.6 million to cover damages caused by the blaze, CBS affiliate KOIN-TV reports. The boy, who was 15 at the time, said he started the fire by throwing a lit firecracker into the woods in September.

District Judge John Olson issued his decision Monday after a lawyer for the teen argued that the cost of restitution was "absurd." Olson said his judgment does not violate the constitution and is "clearly proportionate to the offense" because "it does not exceed the financial damages caused by the youth."

The fire burned more than 48,000 acres of forest land. Eleven requests for restitution totaling $36,618,330.24 were submitted to the court, covering the costs of firefighting, repair and restoration to the gorge and damage to homes.

The restitution is solely the responsibility of the teen, not his parents, who came to the U.S. from Ukraine in 2000.

The court acknowledged that the teen would not be able to pay the full judgement and will allow him to establish a payment plan. After 10 years, the court may grant a full or partial halt of the restitution if the teen completes probation and doesn't commit any additional offenses.

Wildfire time-lapse video 00:37

In February, the teen pleaded guilty to eight counts of reckless burning of public and private property, two counts of depositing burning materials on forest land, and one count each of second-degree criminal mischief and reckless endangerment of others -- all misdemeanors.

Olson sentenced him to more than two and a half months of community service and five years of probation, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported at the time.

After pleading guilty to February, the teen apologized in court asking for forgiveness.  

"I know I will have to live with his bad decision for the rest of my life, but I have learned from this experience and will work hard to help rebuild the community in any way that I can," he said. "I now realize how important it is to think before acting because my actions can have serious consequences."

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