Vancouver boy pleads guilty to starting Eagle Creek fire
The 15-year-old boy charged with igniting the Eagle Creek Fire pleaded guilty Friday morning.
The teenager — described by his defense attorney as a respectful, polite violin player from a tight-knit, loving family — pleaded guilty to 12 charges, including two counts of burning on forest land, eight counts of reckless burning, one count of criminal mischief and one count of reckless endangerment.
Judge John Olson sentenced the teenager to five years of probation. He will also be required to complete 1,920 hours of community service, which will be facilitated by the U.S. Forest Service.
"In my perspective, the law was applied here as it should," said Jack Morris, the boy's defense attorney. "I want you to know that the state has not done him any favors."
Morris, citing the film "Saving Private Ryan," said his client has been given another chance. "That's what the law here provided my client," Morris told the courtroom. "You've been given a second chance; earn it. [And] I can guarantee you that's what my client will do."
The teen apologized in a statement read to the court. "Every day I think about this terrible decision and its awful consequences," he said. "Every time I hear people talk about the fire, I put myself down. I know I will have to live with my 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 I can."