As record-setting Washington wildfires burned last week, a 16-year-old inmate who was helping to fight the Chelan Complex fire escaped from a work camp, after punching a security guard.

The next day, 22 August, police found the inmate on a nearby road and attempted to apprehend him. He pulled out a .22 caliber revolver and, after a brief interaction, fired one shot to his head.

The teen survived, but the program that deploys young inmates to help fight wildfires was placed on hold.

Washington has been employing inmates in juvenile detention to fight wildfires for decades. But the teen’s escape has shed new light on the program.

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