Hikers saw Eagle Creek Fire suspect fling fireworks, attempt to - KPTV - FOX 12

Hikers saw Eagle Creek Fire suspect fling fireworks, attempt to drive off

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Image of Eagle Creek Fire suspect from video posted on YouTube. (KPTV/YouTube) Image of Eagle Creek Fire suspect from video posted on YouTube. (KPTV/YouTube)

Oregon State Police troopers confirm video posted on YouTube shows police talking to the suspect accused of starting the massive Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge.

He is a 15-year-old boy from Vancouver who was setting off fireworks, according to police. The video, which was posted by a witness, shows police talking to the suspect.

Oregon Public Broadcasting interviewed a woman who says she saw a group of boys on the trail flinging fireworks over the edge.

Liz FitzGerald, who lives in Portland, told OPB, "I saw this kid throw a smoke bomb - just lobbed it and dropped it down into the woods ... I saw him throw something that was on fire. Then we all looked over the edge and saw smoke. I said, 'Do you realize how dangerous this is?'"

Officials say the fast-moving blaze is believed to have ignited in the Eagle Creek Canyon.

Kim Garrett says she was on the trail after FitzGerald confronted the teenagers about the fireworks.

"Who brings fireworks to a forest? Are you kidding me?" Kim Garrett told FOX 12.

Garrett may have been one of the last hikers to see the unspoiled beauty of the Gorge. She says before she saw troopers talking to the teens, she watched Forest Service officials pull a car over with them inside.

She says the driver was about to hit the highway.

"No punishment's gonna be good enough... It's like, somebody that doesn't even live in our state. And an entire town's out," Garrett said.

Oregon State Police reported Tuesday the suspect was contacted by law enforcement in the parking lot of the Eagle Creek Trailhead and was interviewed after the fire started Saturday.

FitzGerald says she immediately told OSP what she saw.

"When I came upon them, and the guy threw the firecracker, I'm pretty sure I heard a couple of them giggle. The guy was filming it like it was another thing to film, no big deal. The whole complacency of that group, I find it so disturbing," said FitzGerald.

Garrett said, "The level of stupidity it took to do that... I grew up in the Gorge so, yeah, to see all of it go up, it's very hard. Very hard. Hold back tears."

The teen has not been arrested and no formal charges have been filed at this time. The teen’s name is also not being released by police.

Investigators believe the teen and others were using fireworks along the Eagle Creek Trail on Saturday.

Troopers are asking witnesses, anyone who heard fireworks or other explosions in the area Saturday or anyone with information about this case to call Oregon State Police at 503-375-3555.

Police said the fireworks may have been heard between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday near the Eagle Creek Trail and Punch Bowl Falls.

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