Wyoming news briefs for August 13

Crater Ridge fire 35% contained

SHERIDAN — Firefighters continue their efforts to contain the Crater Ridge Fire, which reportedly grew to engulf more than 1,660 acres of forests in the Bighorn National Forest, according to updates by the U.S. Forest Service.

The fire, which is believed to have started from a suspected lightning strike July 17 at a spot about 30 miles east-northeast of Lovell, increased from more than 1,200 acres on Monday to over 1,660 acres as of Wednesday morning.

The good news, according to reports, is that containment of the blaze also increased, from 20 to 35 percent.

“Firefighters were able to keep the fire from crossing Forest Service Road 111 as it tried to spread to the north,” the USFS report stated. “The fire spread to the south as it crossed Cub Creek reaching Crater Ridge and backing into Dark Canyon.

“Large air tankers and single engine air tankers dropped retardant to help slow down the fire spread on the southern fire perimeter and two Type 1 helicopters were used to drop water over hot spots,” the report continued.

Operational plans on Wednesday called for firefighters to continue their efforts to keep the fire from crossing Forest Service Road111, with Boyd Ridge Road, or Forest Service Road 110, having previously been prepped as an indirect contingency fireline.

Two additional 20-person hand crews were reportedly set to arrive, bringing the number of personnel battling the blaze to 129. Large air tankers were available to assist the effort, if needed, with three additional fire engines also being ordered to the area.


Toddler killed after being hit by truck

EVANSTON — The world can shatter in an instant.

The Evanston community was reminded of that this week when 2-year-old Niko Ringer was tragically killed after he darted into the street in front of a truck driven by an unidentified 19-year-old male at approximately 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 10.

According to Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Matt Arnell, the accident was just that — a “horrible set of circumstances” that resulted in unimaginable loss. 

Shortly before the accident, the boy’s parents — Tosha Scott and Aube Ringer — had taken a dirty diaper outside to the garbage, and now suspect the door hadn’t shut securely when they went back inside. 

Niko had been playing in the living room of his home in the area when he was momentarily left unattended, said Arnell. In those moments, the boy must have slipped out the door and into the street, directly in the path of the oncoming truck.

Arnell said the driver never saw the boy coming as it is believed he darted out from behind some shrubbery. The teen driver realized he had hit something and stopped, immediately calling 911 when he saw the boy. 

Though the incident is still under investigation and law enforcement have recovered the engine control module from the truck and the driver’s cellphone, Arnell said there is no indication that distraction, impairment or speed were factors in the accident.


Weston County attorney resigns

NEWCASTLE — Former Weston County Attorney Alex Berger’s resignation was official July 31 after a resignation letter dated July 20 was accepted by the Board of Weston County Commissioners. 

“It has been the honor of my life serving the people of Weston County in this capacity. I sincerely hope and believe that I have left this office better than when I assumed it,” Berger said in the letter. “The current attorneys and staff of the office will keep on making sure the people of Weston County are safe and your board (the Board of Weston County Commissioners) is well represented.” 

Berger is a Gillette attorney who went to court to secure a spot on Weston County’s primary ballot for the office in 2018.

Filling the vacant position is done through several steps, according to Wyoming statute. First the “board of county commissioners must inform the chairman of the county central committee of the political party which the last incumbent represented at the time of his election” of the vacancy.

In this situation, that is the Weston County Republican Party, chaired by Kari Drost. 

Upon notification, Drost has 15 days to call a meeting of the county central committee who will select three candidates and forward those individuals' names to the Board of Weston County Commissioners. Then, the board will have five days to choose one of the three candidates to fill the vacant county attorney’s seat.