At the time, Liz FitzGerald, who was hiking in the area, saw the 15-year-old and his friends illegally launch the fireworks which ended up destroying nearly 50,000 acres of land. "I said, 'Do you realize you just started a forest fire?'" recalled FitzGerald. "And the kid who had been filming with his cellphone said, 'But what are we supposed to do about it now?' And I said, 'Call the fricking fire department!'"
"There was complete indifference," she continued. "It was weird. I was just like, 'You're not getting this on any level. You're not getting this at all.'"
Although Judge John A. Olson, who handed down the verdict, said he knows the amount will be pretty much impossible for the 15-year-old to pay, he stated it's "clearly proportionate to the offense because it does not exceed the financial damages caused by the youth."
The teen's lawyer, Jack Morris, had a different opinion on the "absurd" verdict. "It's difficult to imagine anything more pointless then ordering an adolescent to pay $36 million in restitution," Morris said.
The high figure was determined based on restitution to the victims, like people who lost their homes in the area, in addition to the U.S. Forest Service and Oregon Department of Transportation. The teen will also have a payment plan and has at least one silver lining. If he completes probation, pays on time, and doesn't commit another crime, he could have the option of ending the payments. Along with the $36 million, the teen has to complete 1,920 hours of community service with the Forest Service, write apology letters to the victims, and serve five years of probation.