Moron With Fireworks Starts Columbia River Gorge Fire

The Eagle Creek fire as of about 9:30 last night. (Image courtesy of SmithHammer Photography)

Is this real life? Who the hell goes into a fire danger zone and sets off fireworks? Apparently, that’s exactly what happened as the Oregon State Police announced that it’s most likely the cause of the Eagle Creek trail fire.

“We believe that fireworks is the cause,” says Sgt. Kaipo Raiser of the Oregon State Police. “We do have a suspect identified. No one has been arrested at this point. Potentially, there could be criminal penalties as well.”

The fire began about a mile up from the Eagle Creek trailhead – which is very close to Punchbowl Falls, a popular spot to explore in Oregon. The fire was started sometime Saturday afternoon, and reported by KATU-TV to have been a teenage boy. According to Oregon State Police, the boy is cooperating with authorities and could be facing charges of arson and reckless endangerment.

As we reported yesterday, this fire sadly resulted in 153 hikers being stranded on the popular trail. Thankfully, those who were stranded have since been rescued.

The fire grew rapidly and is reported to have reached 3,000 acres with 130 homes already evacuated in Cascade Locks.

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142 COMMENTS

    • The only possible point here is that it’s not really their fault. May as well just call this a natural disaster, right? C’mon. As a society we really need to stop making this excuse for “boys” who act in harmful ways. It’s demeaning and disrespectful to teenagers, and it’s dangerous because some get the idea that they can just do whatever they want, because if they get caught they’ll get off with a slap on the wrist.

      • I taught high school for 31 years. I have well experienced the teenager impulse. Furthermore, my students well experienced that I had high expectations for their behavior. Recognizing that teenagers have impulse control issues in no way excuses them, or gets them off with a slap on the wrist. What it means is that as a teacher it was my responsibility to have high expectations. My kids weren’t perfect, but they knew about consequences, so they were respectful. Sometimes they were in trouble as well. It would not be unusual for a teenage boy with fireworks to fire them off first, and think second. That doesn’t mean he’s not culpable, just that he made a foolish choice. Now he has to face serious consequences, which is appropriate.

  1. Forest destroyed, wildlife suffering and dead bc an idiot teenage boy was bored and just had to throw fireworks off a cliff in the Gorge. Try him as an adult, convict and sentence to long prison time. Parents should be held financially responsible for damage. Just sickening, our beautiful gorge in flames from a moron’s actions. No mercy.

      • I agree with you Dustin Khabir.
        My brother played with matches, and set our neighbors barn on fire.
        Boys will be boys..
        Stupid young teenagers.
        The kid was bored, panicked, and scared.. just pray that nobody died in the process of the disaster..

        • The disaster isn’t over. The fire isn’t contained. Fire fighters are putting their lives on the line. A huge metro area is struggling with unhealthy air …again. Boys will be boys? No. Boys need to be taught that the rules and the consequences apply to them too. I agree with the people saying he should be put out on the mop up crew in the 100 degree weather.

          • yup! just like those hikers had to hike 14 miles in 100 degree weather to be evacuated because emergency relief was not able to help them, trapped between 2 fires.

            what an exciting vacation! but boys will be boys, or something. gross.

        • This is exactly what’s wrong with our society today. Let them do as they please and show them leniency because they’re just little baby boys who could’ve never understood the dangers of their “innocent” action. If this were my child, I’d encourage procecution. But I know my child has more sense than these teens. And today is his first day in Kindergarten; he’s 5. Kids learn right from wrong very young. There’s no reason for leniency here. If an adult accidentally causes harm to someone, they face procecution even if intention wasn’t there. This was pure malice, not innocent boys being boys.

        • HEY MARY FUCK YOU TOO THIS WASNT A BARN THIS IS A NATIONAL FOREST THERE WERE 160 HIKERS UP THERE WHO COULD HAVE ALL BEEN KILLED. THROW THE BOOK AT THEM AND MAKE THEM WORK AT DOING REFORESTATION THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.

        • I actually agree with you. Boys will be boys and get into trouble. But this is a 15 year old boy who deliberately lit fireworks and threw them into a freaking forest. There was no panic, he knew what he was doing. Both him and his friend should be held accountable for what they did and not let off easy.

          • LMAO put on trial for stating opinions? Is the all mighty government going to strike me down for stating opinions you don’t agree with.

            Put yourself on trial for ignorance on how our government works.

          • Hey nice strawman! Let me fix your comment…
            “Wow, lots of perfect kids who never started a catastrophic forest fire commenting.”
            Now can you see why most folks are questioning your reasoning ability?

          • Not a very good fix. I get the point everyone is trying to make. I think it is what people think as adults. When you’re a teenager you don’t think something small like a smoke bomb can start a large scale forest fire.

            But I guess many of you have forgotten what being a teenager is like and deluding yourselves into thinking you were perfect so you can place yourself on a pedestal to justify your judgement of others. The problem is you are lying to yourself.

          • Who said anything about being perfect? Yet another strawman built by you. It’s not an all or nothing situation here. One doesn’t need to be “perfect” here to judge the teens actions. This wasn’t some teenage prank gone bad. These morons didn’t run someones mailbox over. They set a forest on fire…on purpose…they didn’t “accidentally” throw fireworks into the forest. They brought them there, lit them and then threw them into the forest. Pointing out the moronic and indefensible actions of these mental midgets isn’t, placing “yourself on a pedestal to justify your judgement of others.” It’s called, “Describing what happened.”
            Please enlighten me as to how I’ve somehow “lied to myself.” Lol. I find it rather telling how easily you can relate to these morons. smh.

          • i lived on and around land in oregon in high forest fire danger and always had fireworks for years, and thats how old they were because i knew better then to take the chance of a fire. these kids should have known better.

      • @dustin Khabir i guess you did tens of millions in damage to other people and innumerable wildlife and wilderness damage growing up?

        no? then it’s not the same and it’s a frankly stupid example. what happened here is defenseless. only a sociopath or a moron would defend what is happening here in the gorge as “oh well no kid is perfect hurrr durrrr”. or are you just not from here and can’t think outside your own 2-mile bubble? you have no idea what you’re talking about and you have no idea what it’s like.

      • Obviously, there are no stops on the spectrum between Perfect Kid and Forest Arsonist. Therefore, since we all did stupid (but not catastrophic) things as kids, we’re not allowed to call for accountability for these two douchebags. Makes perfect sense. Dumbass.

        • Ok a lot of you people seem to like throwing around the word dumbass so allow me to participate.

          If ANY of you DUMBASSES can prove that those boys were out there to start a large scale forest fire then I’ll shut up right now.

          If not, then maybe you DUMBASSES can quit frothing at the mouth and going after kids like they were evil murderers or terrorists.

          I’m not excusing how much damage they have caused, but seems to me like most of you have no sympathy to some kids lighting fireworks in the wrong place. The fire is an ACCIDENT, a stupid accident but still an accident. I wouldn’t try the kids as adults. I would sentence them to community service to help restore the destroyed part of the forest caused by their fire.

          • Dustin Khabir It wasn’t an accident freaking dumbass. The kid purposely threw the smoke bomb in the ravine. Don’t tell me that a 15 years old kiddo doesn’t know that at the end of August, it’s really dry out and it takes nothing to start anything on fire. If it had been an accident he would have dropped it, but he THREW IT. Hmm hello ?? What the fuck was he doing there in the first place with smoke bomb and firecrackers knowing something like this would happen? Kid showed NO remorse at all after he got caught. You and the kid’s parent are what’s wrong with today’s society. Defending these little shit after what they have done. Putting people’s lives in danger, their homes, belongings, memories. Shut up you ignorant idiot.

          • Removing the person’s opinions and just taking the facts it sounds like normal rebellious teens. I’ve been in similar trouble as a teen with fireworks minus the wildfire. Their response was predictable of not wanting to get in trouble. They are cooperating with the police now.

            So the kid who threw the firework was trying to be a badass in front of his friends and made a mistake. It was a smoke bomb so they probably figured it was ok.

            I’m not excusing what he did but I do understand why he did it. That doesn’t make him as bad as you are trying to make him out to be.he will face the consequences of his actions. I still think you’re overreacting.

          • There is no such thing as a perfect kid of course but parents need to be held accountable and in this case they should be criminally charged. My parents taught me well over and over, the pitfalls of fireworks and asshole behavior. Did i never do anything stupid? No. But i had a good sense of what was acceptable or not; what was heinous behavior and what not. Anyone who is 15 with an IQ over 50 would know not to do what this kid did unless there was some fundamental lapse of respect for everything in the world. And that is a big problem.

          • Oh look, someone else who was a stand up kid. Good for you. I’m getting tired of repeating myself so feel free to read through the comments because I’ve already responded to your statement.

          • the problem with that is nowadays you have very limited ways to discipline a kid. You can be a great parent and still have a sociopath for a child….. I sort of feel bad for the parents because to have your kid do something like that would really make you hate them. The two boys should be criminally charged and have to serve 10,000 community hours replanting and cleaning up the place they destroyed. Yes we all did stupid things as as children, but this was beyond stupid kid behaviour.

          • Dustin, some kid didn’t turn on a fan in dangerous hurricane conditions to start the hurricane. This fire was 100% preventable. This was at minimum a reckless act, at worse malicious with premeditated intent. That kid is lucky no hikers were actually overrun by the fire.

          • Stupid comment. The court will decide whether or not it was malicious. I don’t think it was. That is my opinion. Have a nice day.

          • Why on Earth would anyone have sympathy for such idiocracy? Unless, you’re a breeder and only relate to children and their stupidity. Never mind the forests (sans controlled burning), wildlife, and displaced citizens when a moron child is involved.

      • So boys will be boys? This little prick lights the most beautiful natural place near our city, endangers the homes and lives of thousands,will cost MILLIONS in tourism revenue and jobs for this area for god knows how long….boys will be boys? You’re kidding right?

          • Go back to California? American citizen here born and raised. See what I mean? Why are we all so quick to attack each other? It’s like a lot of people are out for blood these days.

          • Dustin do us all a favor and buy a pair of tweezers, pinch your little wee wee off so you don’t procreate. Thanks

          • You know when I began reading this I could see your point about kids or teenager doing things which are not so smart and not doing it with the intent of starting a fire..however, the more I read you and your posts I read your inability to HEAR anything other than your own words or in your mind your own truth. My Son is 15 years old and we live in Portland, Or and we wake up to our home smelling like a fire, ashed all over our property and our vehicles. This however, is nothing compared to the actual forest burning Dustin. Do you have any idea what it feels like to know the place you travel to for apples and see the beautiful Cody Farms signs, among others burning, the falls we drive to, the out look post, which is part of the Lewis and Clark trails all burning along with homes. Our schools have closed, our children and adults wear masks. I understand kids well and I understands kids being kids. However, Dustin I am hear to tell you a 15 yr old boy who doesn’t have enough brains to not set off fireworks in a forest with a ban on burning..you can stick up for him all day long. I drive a special needs bus and my kids would know not to do this. Just like my 15 yr old Son looked at me like I was crazy when I asked if he would do something like this. I was a kid, grew up in the country and I did less than smart things..like throwing rocks where I knew we weren’t suppose to and breaking windows..however, this is a different caliber of neglect and not using his brain. I believe he should have to look at the devastation he caused and plant those trees one gentleman spoke of and keep doing this work until it is complete. Do you even realize or understand the destruction caused by his one deliberate and stupid mistake . It was not OK. Whether he intended to start a HUGE FOREST FIRE or not is not the question. The question is did he in sound mind light fireworks or a smoke bomb in the forest where there was ban? Did he know there was the possibility of a fire? We have to take responsibility for our actions my friend…whether we are 15 or 50. This young man made a very poor choice. IT WAS A CHOICE. No one forced this on him. Just like when a person gets in a car and kills another person..it may be an accident however, they are still held accountable. When you started mouthing off about being in Florida this is when I realized you would argue with a fence post..you will argue a point which is pointless. No matter how you look at this..this young man made a poor choice and his poor choice affects so many different people, places, animals and things. There are some beautiful places in Florida. I was a flight attendant and I have seen beauty everywhere. Why don’t you quick arguing for the sake or arguing and put yourself in our shoes…not a 15 years olds shoes who fucked up major…He fucked up no matter how much you want to argue the point. You are not the judge and jury and he will have one…if nothing else his parents MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE. Really Dustin, check yourself, check you motives. Do you just need to be right so badly that you will continue to argue in this post..people here are sad, mad, angry, frustrated, scared and beside ourselves with the knowing of a fire of this magnitude whether started intentionally or not was started by ne careless 15 year old young man WHO KNEW BETTER…

          • I’m so glad to see a well thought out post. I did mention in my previous posts and I will say it again. I do not in any way excuse his actions and he will suffer the consequences of his actions.

            What I have been arguing about with the other people on this forum is they paint a picture of a 15 year old kid as if he was a terrorist out to hurt people or cause mass destruction. I’ve seen people wanting him tried as an adult to life in prison and one person went so far as to suggest the death penalty.

            Yes I understand he made a huge lapse in judgment and probably didn’t expect a fire to even start from a smoke bomb or for that matter turn into the fire it has become. I must confess I was surprised to see the fire was the result of a smoke bomb. Initially I thought it came from a bigger fire cracker.

            Is the future of this mistake worth life in prison for this boy who made a stupid mistake that is quite typical of kids his age? Is his life over before it even began? I’m not defending his actions. At the end of the day, the forest will grow back, nobody died, and things can be replaced.

            Should his punishment be harsh? Yes. Should his punishment be the end of his life whether that be life in prison or a death sentence? I have to say no.

      • hah… Thank you, Dustin, for your idiotic logic. There is an incredible difference between the average kid who errs and gets suspended from school (which is actually even a rare blunder among most juveniles) or some other typical teenage mistake and the kid who accidentally starts a multi-state, 10,000 acre forest fire. Your sweeping generalization about individual commenters that assumes past imperfection = “welp, all dee kidz make dee mistakes, so all dee mistakes iz dee same.” Do you understand how stupid you sound? Probably not.
        Kids make mistakes. Adults make mistakes. However, there is a significant degree of separation among those mistakes, and, typically, those mistakes are judged and punished based on the doer’s understanding of the consequence(s). In this case, a teenager of sound and able mind, a mind which can be accurately estimated in terms of average mental development in correlation with age and society, is expected to understand the consequence of lighting FIREworks in a fire danger zone and forest.
        TL;DR: stop being a complete idiot

          • they threw lit fireworks into a forest that was on a burn ban & high alert for forest fires, after 2 months of no rain on a 100 degree day.

            you’re the one defending them. YOU prove that they DIDN’T do it on purpose or act willfully negligently.

          • Since when do kids pay attention to the burn ban?

            I don’t need to prove anything because I’m not the one out to see kids hanged.

          • you’re the one out to prove that they did nothing wrong.

            and actually, i messed with fireworks a lot as a kid / teen. they sell fireworks without age limit where i’m from. i was still never stupid or sociopathic enough to light them into a forest during a burn ban after 2 months of no rain on a 100 degree day.

            again, you have zero clue what you’re talking about and are arguing just to argue. so i’f you’re going to argue that the complete destruction of a forest, several towns, and hundreds of PEOPLE’S HOMES was an “innocent mistake” by someone who is supposed to be an adult in a couple years, that claim is on YOU to defend.

            bye!

          • Lol do you even listen to yourself? Sociopathic behavior? Do you even know what that means? They didn’t seem like sociopaths in the video.

            You’re innocent until proven guilty in this country. Yes they started the fire. Wether or not they did out of malice is for the courts to decide. Your accusations are baseless given the small amount of information you have. I’m just glad you aren’t sitting on that jury given how quickly you jump to conclusions.

            Bye!

          • why are you even posting? do you live here? is your farm with hundreds of animals in need of being relocated here? is your historic orchard that tens of thousands of people travel to (not counting locals) that sustains an entire community economically now a pile of ash? have you ever lived <5 miles from a forest fire at 0% containment after three days? no? then shut the fuck up with your hypotheticals. bye felicia.

          • Don’t think so. Seems to me more like I’m not quick to jump to conclusions like the rest of you are before having all the facts.

          • again, you clearly aren’t here and have no clue what you’re talking about. you’re trolling. you’re trying to make this emergency somehow about your “freedom” (and by some half-assed extension for the sake of your imaginary argument, theirs). GTFO troll.

          • If I chuck a brick at you and it kills you, then I shouldn’t be judged too harshly because all I was trying to do was get your attention…Hey no malice involved…Nobody is perfect.

          • Congratulations, I’m impressed. Riling all these people up, that’s some grade A trolling right there. I salute you.

          • That’s great that you’re a complete idiot and think that commenters need to prove to you that they purposefully did this, but that’s not how crime and punishment works. Intent (which for your dumbass means “dem kidz meant to dooz it”) is actually far different than your kindergarten definition when it comes to law. I won’t get into any of the Latin with you, as that’ll be far too complicated for you, but you can do a simple Google search on that front. You do know what Google is, right?
            Intent revolves around the idea of a guilty mind and the mental state of the accused. Within that concept, criminal intent (remember: dem kidz meansin to dooz things) can be defined through purposeful acts (acts where the person knew the consequence and wanted the consequence), knowing acts (acts committed with knowledge of the consequence), reckless acts (where the accused doesn’t want the consequence, knows what the consequence is, but continues with the unlawful act anyway), and negligence (the failure of the accused to act as a reasonable person in the given situation).
            As you can see, just because these teenagers *possibly* did not mean to start a fire on purpose does not mean they are innocent. Even under the lowest form (negligence), they are still guilty of a crime.
            And no, I’m not a lawyer; I’m just a guy who is way smarter than you. You can shut up now.

          • I’m with Dustin. The kid needs a psych assessment and we need to know a lot more about him before we say lock him up and throw away the key. If he’s mentally capable, part of his punishment should be to fight forest fires for 10 years.

    • Dont throw him in prison…instead put him to work for the rest of his life planting trees and doing restoration of plants and etc and he has to do this for NO PAY. And his friend who was filming him throwing the firecrackers with his cell phone TOO!! Make them work until its all restored. No pay no nothing. The parents have to supply housing and transportation but those two need to fully understand what they destroyed and the only way to do that is to make them repair the damage as much as is possible.NO MATTER HOW LONG IT TAKES.

  2. He is cooperating with police efforts, good. In many cases like this one the cause is never connected to the individual that caused it. Thinking back to my teanage years I can’t say with any level of certainty that I would have spoke up or said anything at all. I can say that I would have definitely taken advantage of getting my hands on some fireworks, I wonder where it was he aquired such things… Poor choices are common amongst the youth in all generations. I think in this case looking to the individuals that made setting off fireworks in the Forrest an option for him to choose to do or not to do would also be acceptable. Yes he should be held accountable for his actions, and their consuquences, as should anyone who had the chance to stop him from doing it.

    • fireworks are incredibly easy to obtain, this shouldn’t be a mystery. even in states they are supposedly prohibited, they are still sold in stores and at fireworks stands several times a year, and they are sold to minors. and even if he didn’t buy his own, someone’s parents ALWAYS has leftover fireworks from holidays for the pilfering. i messed with fireworks a lot as a kid, including buying my own (anything from sparklers to m80’s to rockets, i was never carded or told to get my parent! not even once!). but i was never stupid or careless enough to mess with them in the densely forested area in WA / the desert dries out socal areas i grew up in.

    • nah. he’ll get a slap on the wrist and a warning, won’t have to do community service to the community, and his college application will be pristine. because plenty of people in this country, not just people commenting here but the legal system, deeply believe that boys will be boys and stop hurting their poor futures.

  3. It is sad that a child made a dangerous and ill-advised choice that has resulted in the endangerment of human life and the destruction of an ecosystem. It is appalling that the author would use a headline that promotes the stereotyping and stigmatization of persons with intellectual disabilities. Just as I would not leave a sexist, racist or homophobic statement unchallenged, I must point out that using outdated, ignorant and inflammatory terms that deminish the respect and value of persons with disabilities, of any kind, is unacceptable. My hope is that the author and his readers will think twice in the future before making ignorant, linguistically lazy, stereotypic remarks, articles or headlines.

    • I think you’re confusing a moron with a person with “mental disabilities. A moron is really just another word for a stupid person. Seems to me that the author chose the correct word to describe the fire setter.

      mo·ron
      ˈmôrˌän/
      noun
      informal
      noun: moron; plural noun: morons
      a stupid person.
      synonyms:fool, idiot, ass, blockhead, dunce, dolt, ignoramus, imbecile, cretin, dullard, simpleton, clod; More
      informalnitwit, halfwit, dope, ninny, nincompoop, chump, dimwit, dingbat, dipstick, goober, coot, goon, dumbo, dummy, ditz, dumdum, fathead, numbskull, numbnuts, dunderhead, thickhead, airhead, butthead, flake, lamer, lamebrain, zombie, nerd, peabrain, birdbrain, scissorbill, jughead, mouth-breather, jerk, donkey, twit, goat, dork, twerp, hoser, schmuck, bozo, boob, turkey, schlep, chowderhead, dumbhead, goofball, goof, goofus, galoot, lummox, knuckle-dragger, klutz, putz, schlemiel, sap, meatball, dumb cluck, mook
      “what moron left ice cream on the stove?”
      antonyms:genius
      Origin
      early 20th century (as a medical term denoting an adult with a mental age of about 8–12): from Greek mōron, neuter of mōros ‘foolish.’

      • No. As your thesaurus shows, there are a number of different terms that can be used to belittle people in an effort to imply they have deminished intelligence. None of them promote positive self images for persons with actual limited mental capacities. With such a vast array of words available to describe people, places, things and actions there is no excuse to use hurtful terms once a person has been educated to recognize the words are hurtful. I work with patients with mental health issues. It is easy for many to perceive this population as being unaware or unimportant enough to make the effort to treat them with respect in all our words, actions and deeds. That is a mistake. Hopefully, this conversation will open the eyes and hearts of those that read this.

  4. Punch Bowl seems to be very popular with the kids, and rightly so. When I’ve hiked up there though, the kids completely disregard other hikers and the wildlife and they really don’t get how fortunate they are to have such a place. It’s not a park, it’s the forest where other beings live, or lived. Fortunately mother nature will return in all her glory, although it will be a while……..

  5. Nobody’s perfect but there is absolutely no excuse for something like this. They obviously didn’t know the difference between right and wrong or just didn’t care. Not only could hikers have been killed but think about those people with breathing problems who have to find a way to cope with the poor air quality.

  6. I was a teenager once. Though I was one of the brightest kids in my class, I was also stupid and lacking in any common sense. I did stupid crap like this, though not to the same level of criminality as this. Try this idiot kid as an adult? NO WAY! He does need to be prosecuted and made to see the consequences of his boneheaded, impulsive decision. Maybe sentence him to serve his community by cleaning up after this fire he started. Hopefully that will teach him that stupid actions have sometimes dire consequences. Learning this, maybe he’ll mature into a thoughtful, careful young man who has both the common sense to not do moronic crap like this again and the wisdom to counsel other teenage boys to not do crap like this. Considering his age, lack of wisdom, and seeming lack of ability to foresee the consequences of his actions, I think it vengeful on our parts and lacking of mercy to try him as an adult capable and guilty of premeditating such malice. Let the punishment we mete out teach this boy wisdom and not merely satisfy our lust for vengeance.

    • But ultimately you *did* know better, and you *were* making a choice. To me your defense seems suspiciously self-serving. There are people of all ages who think they can get away with doing things that put others at risk, which is about arrogance (which is learned, largely as a result of privilege,) not some supposed inability to control themselves. But somehow when we’re talking about teenagers, it’s instead “lack of impulse control,” which absolves them: “boys will be boys.” If a group of people grew up not being blamed for their assholery, I’d expect a portion of them to just go right ahead with more of that assholery, right up until the point that they’re actually held accountable for it and they stop because now it’s too much of a personal risk, which I guess we are calling “wisdom.” The reality is that you were a jerk, and decided later, for whatever reason, to be less of a jerk. That doesn’t mean that you somehow had no idea that you were being a jerk before, or that you couldn’t help it. *uck the “lack of impulse control” defense. Basically, all that’s doing is giving people a period of time to be assholes without suffering the full consequences. And there are people who will certainly take advantage of that.

  7. Having done stupid things at times, I feel sorry for the kid. It was most likely thoughtless, not malicious, and knowing he started all this is probably a heavy burden, knowing the losses he caused and the probable legal consequences are probably crushing already.