No 'malicious intent' for Government Island fire, spokesman says

PORTLAND, Ore. - A Portland Fire Bureau spokesman said Wednesday the fire that was started on Government Island last week by a boy was an accident.

According to the fire bureau, the boy was out with his parents last Monday and a single set of fireworks started the fire.

About 80 firefighters battled the 25-acre blaze on the 1,578-acre island in the Columbia River.

The column of smoke could be seen for miles and prompted calls to 911 and local news outlets.

Fire bureau spokesman Lt. Rich Chatman described the boy as a "really nice kid."

"It was an accident. There was really no malicious intent there," he said.

The boy was on the island with his parents Aug. 19.

He aimed his fireworks at the river but one of them missed.

His parents admitted it was their son right away.

It is unknown right now what kind of punishment the boy will face.

"My understanding is there is going to be some sort of penalty," said Chatman. "As far as what that penalty is, that is being negotiated right now."

The penalty's up to prosecutors. They're meeting with the boy and his parents to determine the punishment.

The punishment could be as simple as a fine for having illegal fireworks or reckless burning. He could also be charged with felony arson, which is severe.

Chatman said, however, that a severe punishment is unlikely.

They're hoping this will be a learning experience - not just for the family but for everyone else about how dangerous illegal fireworks can be.