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Teen who started fire that burned 48,000 acres ordered to pay $36 million

OREGON — When you play with fire, there are bound to be consequences.

For one teenager, that consequence comes with the jarring price tag of $36 million.

On Monday, an Oregon judge ordered the boy, who pleaded guilty to starting the Eagle Creek wildfire last year, to pay $36,618,330.24 in restitution to cover the damages.

The teen said he tossed fireworks in the woods while hiking on Eagle Creek trail on Sept. 2, 2017, according to court documents obtained by CNN. One of those fireworks ignited the massive wildfire in Oregon, which burned more than 48,000 acres.

The Vancouver, Washington, youth, who was 15 at the time of the incident, appeared at a hearing on Thursday. He is not being named because he’s a minor. The 11 claims from the state and other parties totaled $36 million, something the teen’s attorney called absurd, according to CNN affiliate KOIN.

The teen’s attorney, Jack Morris, said the hefty fine violated the Oregon and US Constitutions, citing the Eighth Amendment, which protects people from excessive fines and “cruel and unusual punishment,” according to the judge’s written opinion.

Hood River County Circuit Court Judge John A. Olson wrote in his opinion that the judgment doesn’t violate the constitution. “The restitution is clearly proportionate to the offense because it does not exceed the financial damages caused by the youth,” he wrote.

“I’m satisfied that the restitution ordered in this case bears a sufficient relationship to the gravity of the offenses for which the youth was adjudicated,” he wrote.

CNN tried to contact Morris, the defense lawyer, on Monday but he did not call back.

The order says the following organizations and people should be receiving money:

$5,000 to Iris Schenk

$8,111.44 to Allstate Insurance

$31,550.90 to Oregon State Parks

$100,000 to Heuker Properties

$168,000 to Trail Club of Oregon

$1,048,877.52 to Union Pacific Railroad

$1,643,035.38 to Oregon State Fire Marshal

$12,500,000 to Oregon Department of Transportation

$21,113,755 to US Forest Service

If the teen cannot pay the millions in full, the court has said he could establish a pay schedule through the Hood River Juvenile Department.

In February, the teenager apologized in court and was sentenced to five years probation and 1,920 hours of community service with the U.S. Forest Service, reported CNN affiliate KPTV.