The Oregon State Police said Wednesday that their investigation into the start of the Eagle Creek Fire is ongoing even after identifying the suspect as a 15-year-old from Vancouver.
During a news conference Wednesday morning, OSP Captain Bill Fugate said that investigators are still asking for the public’s help with details on the case.
Fugate said investigators want to speak with people who were on the Eagle Creek Trail or at Punch Bowl Falls Saturday to see if they saw or heard anyone using fireworks or acting suspiciously prior to the fire starting.
Fire officials believe the fire started around 4 p.m. Saturday and said it had grown to nearly 33,000 acres by Wednesday morning after merging with the Indian Creek Fire.
Fugate noted that investigators have already received photos and videos of the suspect and his companions, as well as other information.
He also said that investigators have spoken with several of the other people who were with the suspect at the time it is believed the fire started, adding that they have been cooperating with investigators.
Fugate said that evidence has been seized and is being reviewed electronically that may contain footage of when the fire actually started. He did ask anyone who sees videos or photos posted to social media of the actual acts that caused the fire to contact investigators.
While Fugate would not comment if the suspect had admitted to starting the fire, he did say investigators were very sure that the suspect was involved and that he had been cooperating with them.
No charges have been filed against the teen as of midday Wednesday, and Fugate said officers are making sure they have a “very thorough investigation” on this case due to the severity of the damage. After that investigation, Fugate said the case would be turned over to the district attorneys in Hood River County and Multnomah County for review.
Even the boy suspected in this case is 15, Fugate said officers are investigating the case like he was an adult. He said it would be up to prosecutors on how they would seek to try the case after the investigation is over.
Fugate said the charges the teen could be facing could vary depending on if his intent was to start a fire or if this turns out to be a case of evidence, which is part of the ongoing investigation.
The decision of holding the 15-year-old’s parents liable for the damages caused by the fire will be decided by prosecutors, Fugate said, adding that investigators have been in contact with “family and friends” of the teen. He also said the teen’s parents had been cooperating in the investigation.
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