All of Oregon is on fire right now. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (Click Here for their website) there are 22 fires in Oregon with over 350,000 acres burning. The whole state of Oregon looks like Mordor from the Lord of The Rings rather than the beautiful state it usually is.
The most recent fire in Oregon is the Eagle Creek and Indian Creek fires in the Columbia Gorge which have just joined together into one massive inferno of over 30,000 acres of forest. All of this allegedly started because a young 15 year old boy decided to drop some fireworks into the Eagle Creek Canyon (Click Here for that article).
Needless to say there is a tremendous amount of wrath aimed at this young man. Many of the hiking trails and points of interest in the Columbia Gorge are already forever changed. The animosity and shock are so great right now that if the teenager is charged and his name released I have no doubt he will forever be receiving death threats from Oregonians.
I am torn between two camps. On the one had as an avid outdoorsman I am heartbroken at the blatant disregard for nature this teenager and his friends had. Throwing a firework, at the end of summer, in one of the driest summers on record into a canyon is just plain stupid. I am saddened at the beauty of the Columbia Gorge that is now affected because of it, and the desire to see justice served is strong.
Yet at the same time, I was 15 once. I’ve made stupid decisions. Granted, my stupid decisions haven’t cost taxpayers millions of dollars, nor threatened or destroyed people’s homes. If I were to put myself in his shoes, I would be completely and utterly humiliated. Every day he travels through the Columbia Gorge he will be reminded of the stupid decision he made.
Justice is not in my hands, nor in the hands of anyone else reading this post. Yet something will happen, and this young man’s life is forever changed, hopefully for the better. I’ve heard some people suggest he and his friends be involved with the cleanup, with visiting the firefighters risking their lives to stop the fire. I’ve heard people suggest this young man and his friends see first hand how their decision has affected people who have lost their homes.
May this be a lesson to all of us, because we are all capable of making stupid mistakes. May we all learn to think a little harder about the consequences of the actions we make.