By Allan Brettman

The Oregonian

HOOD RIVER— The Hood River County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that it had filed charges against a 15-year-old Vancouver boy in connection with the Eagle Creek fire.

The suspect appeared recently in Hood River County Circuit Court and was arraigned on a juvenile court petition, the office said in a statement. It didn’t release the boy’s name.

Allegations in the petition, filed by the Hood River County Juvenile Department, include reckless burning, depositing burning materials on forest lands, unlawful fireworks possession, criminal mischief and recklessly endangering other persons.

Forest fire damage spread over the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area in Hood River County as well as Multnomah County.

Charges were filed in Hood River County because Oregon’s juvenile code says legal proceedings should start in the county where the illegal act originally occurred, the statement said.

Oregon State Police investigated the case with the help of U.S. Forest Service investigators, the office said. The fire began on Saturday, Sept. 2, about 4 p.m., authorities have said.

A woman reported witnessing a boy throw a smoke bomb into the Eagle Creek Canyon and described the group of friends giggling and taking a cellphone video of the deed that afternoon. State police initially said they would release the boy’s identity but changed their minds soon in their investigation, even in the event of an arrest, citing concerns about the outcry and threats that he could face.

The 48,831-acre wildfire changed the landscape in the gorge and forced hundreds of evacuations and an extended shutdown of Interstate 84. Multnomah Falls and other major landmarks remain closed as firefighters continue to assess damage.

The fire is about 50 percent contained and is no longer growing. Cleanup, damage assessment and rehabilitation continue.

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