Eagle Creek Fire suspect faces charges
The 15 year-old Vancouver, Wash., boy who allegedly started the still-burning Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge is facing multiple charges in juvenile court, the Hood River District Attorney's office announced Thursday.
When the Eagle Creek fire erupted on Saturday, Sept. 2, the Oregon State Police opened a criminal investigation. Witnesses reported a 15 year-old boy was throwing lit fireworks off a cliff.
The fire started about one mile south of Cascade Locks and grew quickly, eventually covering more than 48,000 acres. Residents were evacuated, and Interstate 84 was closed for days. The Historic Columbia River Highway remains closed as are many of the most-used hiking trails and tourist spots in the popular tourist corridor.
Despite the fall rains, the fire is still classified as only 50 percent contained, and 30 firefighters are still working on mopping up the mess.
The 15-year-old suspect, whose name has not been released, has appeared in the Hood River County Circuit Court and arraigned on allegations of reckless burning, depositing burning materials on forest lands, unlawful possession of fireworks, criminal mischief and recklessly endangering other people.
The charging petition was filed by the Hood River County Juvenile Department at the direction of the Hood River County District Attorney John Sewell.
The Hood River County District Attorney's office has been working with the Multnomah County District Attorney's office. Although extensive damage caused by the wildfire occurred in both Hood River and Multnomah Counties, Oregon's juvenile code dictates that legal proceedings be commenced in the county where the illegal act originally occurred, which is Hood River County.
The District Attorney's office, the Oregon State Police and the Hood River County Juvenile Department said they will have no further comment until the case is resolved.