PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Those close to a 15-year-old boy accused of starting a wildfire by tossing fireworks along a trail in Oregon’s scenic Columbia River Gorge says he is from a church-going large Ukrainian family mortified by what happened.
The teen, from Vancouver, Washington, has been charged with reckless burning and other offenses in Hood River Juvenile Court.
His mother told the Oregonian/OregonLive that “this is a trauma for him” and “it was his mistake.” She said she fears a public backlash and that the boy’s school-age siblings might face retaliation.
The blaze which started Sept. 2 forced evacuations, closed an interstate highway, and scorched more than 75 square miles.
Hood River County District Attorney John Sewell hasn’t released the boy’s name. He says confidentiality is necessary to protect the boy’s parents.
The case has sparked fierce debate over the potential consequences for the boy, including whether his family should be financially liable for damages.