The 15-year-old boy accused of starting the Eagle Creek Fire that burned more than 48,000 acres in the Columbia River Gorge is facing charges including reckless burning and unlawful possession of fireworks.
The Hood River County District Attorney's Office and Oregon State Police reported Thursday that legal proceedings have begun in Hood River with the teen having recently been arraigned on a juvenile court petition.
The petition charges include depositing burning materials on forest lands, criminal mischief and recklessly endangering other persons.
None of the charges fall under Measure 11 mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines.
The Eagle Creek Fire started Sept. 2. Detectives said a 15-year-old boy from Vancouver was identified as the suspect early in the investigation, but charges were not immediately filed as police pledged to conduct a “very thorough investigation.”
On Thursday, 30 people continued to work on the Eagle Creek Fire. Full containment is estimated to be reached on Nov. 30.
The fire caused extensive damage in Hood River and Multnomah counties, but Oregon’s juvenile code dictates that legal proceedings take place in the county where the illegal act originally occurred, which police said was in Hood River County.
The Eagle Creek Fire forced numerous people to evacuate their homes and it shut down Interstate 84 westbound for 10 days and the eastbound lanes for weeks. The fire damaged or destroyed trails and landmarks in the Gorge, including the Oneonta Gorge tunnel.
The Multnomah Falls Lodge was threatened by the fire, but saved from serious damage by firefighters.
“The District Attorney's office, the Oregon State Police and the Hood River County Juvenile Department will have no further comment until the case has been resolved,” according to a statement released by law enforcement Thursday.
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