Pedro Mountain Fire tops 12,000 acres
CASPER (WNE) — The Pedro Mountain Fire near Pathfinder Reservoir has now burned 12,000 acres, but no additional structures have been destroyed by the flames, authorities said Thursday.
Crews set up sprinkler systems and temporary water storage tanks near homes in the area, according to an update sent Thursday to media. Bulldozers, meanwhile, cleared away brush surrounding buildings to make it easier to defend them.
The fire, which was touched off by lightning on Aug. 24, is 10 percent contained. More than 300 firefighters and a small fleet of aircraft have been working the blaze.
The fire’s rate of growth has slowed considerably since it tripled and then quadrupled in size during the first 48 hours. But weather remains a concern. A red flag warning is in effect for the area, with temperatures expected in the mid 80s Friday and slightly higher over the weekend.
“To best protect structures, crews will cut more dozer line, conduct burnout operations and continue to set up sprinkler systems adjacent to homes and other values at risk,” the announcement states.
No injuries have been reported, but four structures have burned, including homes, according to firefighters.
Evacuations remain in place for Pedro Mountain Estates, Pedro Mountain Ranch Road and Cardwell Ranch.
Pathfinder Reservoir remains open, but authorities have asked boaters to avoid travel south of the Canyon Creek area.
Grant awarded for coal innovation center
GILLETTE (WNE) — Energy Capital Economic Development can move forward with work on the Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center now that the Economic Development Administration has officially awarded a $1.46 million grant.
In June, Phil Christopherson, CEO of Economic Development, said the money has been “set aside,” Christopherson said, but that he was waiting for the EDA to “give us an award letter” that will allow Energy Capital to spend the money.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the grant award earlier this week.
This EDA grant will be matched with $1.46 million in state and local funds, and is expected to help create 40 jobs and generate $15 million in private investment.
“The Trump Administration is fulfilling the President’s promise to America’s coal workers,” Ross said in a press release. “The new Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center to be located in Campbell County will provide a place for entrepreneurs to research new coal products, develop new industries, and create jobs for the people of Wyoming.”
This EDA project will help to build two new buildings at the Fort Union Industrial Park in central Campbell County to serve as the new Advanced Carbon Products Innovation Center. The facility will advance the most promising coal-related technologies being developed at the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources, and will facilitate moving new technology from lab to market.
“I’m heartened that this administration is putting its money to work encouraging continued economic development with one of our nation’s most important resources, coal,” said aligns with my ongoing efforts to utilize technology to develop new uses for Wyoming coal.”
Man injured in meth lab explosion pleads guilty
TORRINGTON (WNE) — Tarique Rishard Jeske has pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of a controlled substance precursor with intent to manufacture a controlled substance, a felony that could result in 20 years as a ward of the Wyoming Department of Corrections, a fine of $25,000, or both.
Jeske originally pleaded not guilty to that charge, as well as two other felony charges, in March. The prosecution, led by Goshen County Attorney Eric Boyer, moved to dismiss two of the charges in exchange for the guilty plea.
Jeske will learn his fate during a sentencing hearing in the Eighth Judicial District Court on Oct. 9 at 9 a.m.
Jeske was charged after a methamphetamine laboratory he was attempting to build literally blew up in his face. According to the Affidavit of Probable Cause filed in the case, Jeske’s alleged activities caught the attention of law enforcement officials after he received burns to his face, chest and arms. Jeske told police he had sustained the injuries “when a lighter he was playing with ‘blew up.’”
Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigation detective Jason Moon, who filed the affidavit, was contact by the Torrington Police Department after Jeske sought treatment for the injuries. When police searched Jeske’s home, they allegedly found all of the makings of a meth lab.
Health Department warns of ‘block grant’ scam
JACKSON (WNE) — There’s a new scam being spread over social media, so watch your Facebook Messenger.
The Wyoming Department of Health issued a press release warning about scammers posing as representatives of the Community Services Block Grant program.
The department warned that the scammers use social media to tell people they are eligible for “large grants” through the program.
“They’re asking for things like name, address and phone number,” said Sarah Green, community services program manager at the Health Department. “Then they ask the individual they are scamming to purchase a money order and send it to the scammer.”
In truth, the block grant program doesn’t give money to individual residents. Instead the federal government gives money to the state of Wyoming, which passes it along to representatives in each of its 23 counties.
The county government handles the block grant in Teton County, with officials deciding which community service programs and agencies will receive money.
Most government programs won’t ask people to send a money order to receive more money. Green said scammers have asked for between $300 and $800 as a “processing fee” that will enable the individual to receive the block grant.