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Jun 10, 2012 - Staff and wire reports

Tribal hazmat training available

Tribal members interested in hazardous materials handling training can sign up for the weeklong program happening June 18-22 at Rocky Moutnain Hall's Buffalo Room in Fort Washakie.

The hazmat training offers the opportunity to learn how to remove hazardous debris out of buildings and from other hazardous waste sites. Students will be able to apply their training to other jobs in the future.

The training will happen each day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is no cost to participate in the training but students must attend all days of the course.

Upon completion of the training, participants will receive a certificate in hazardous waste material removal.

Anyone interested should send a letter of interest to P.O. Box 538, Fort Wahsakie, WY 82514. Letters should be received by June 15.

Website helps reduce wildfire risks

Landowners can reduce wildfire risks to houses, cabins and outbuildings by creating defensible spaces around them, according to wildfire experts.

Information about how to create defensible spaces and reduce wildfire risks to property is at barnyardsandbackyards.com.

"With this spring's unusually dry conditions, we are asking people to be especially careful with all types of fires around their property, and we urge them to implement defensible space practices around their homes and outbuildings," said Bill Crapser, state forester with the Wyoming State Forestry Division.

The website is part of Barnyards & Backyards, Rural Living in Wyoming by the Small Acreage Issue Team, which is a collaborative effort of the University of Wyoming Extension, the Wyoming State Forestry Division and other land resource organizations in Wyoming.

Subjects in how-to articles and videos include creating defensible spaces around a house, cabin or outbuilding, firewise plants that can be used in landscapes and other steps to prepare for wildfire.

There is also information about what to do after a wildfire, such as rehabilitating the fire line, assessing burned and stressed tree danger, deciding whether to salvage fire-damaged trees and determining water quality and erosion.

Go to barnyardsandbackyards.com, click on "Resources" on the left-hand side of the page, then "Wildfire."

The website "is one of the best sites out there for practical information of interest to rural residents in our state," said Jennifer Thompson, small-acreage outreach coordinator with UW Extension.

"Visitors can find information on a whole host of subjects including vegetable gardening, weed control, water-wise landscaping, tree care, windbreaks, pine beetle management, grazing management and more," Thompson said. "The rich and useful content is the result of the efforts of resource professionals across the state."

Teen falls 400 feet to death in Yellowstone

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK (AP) -- The National Park Service says an 18-year-old woman has died after falling 400 feet in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.

The Park Service says she was a Yellowstone concession employee on her first day in the park. She was hiking a canyon trail with three other acquaintances when she ventured off trail onto a loose rock promontory, which gave way underneath her.

The accident occurred near Inspiration Point Thursday afternoon. Her body was retrieved Friday.

Wind slows firefighting work near Wheatland

CHEYENNE (AP) -- Strong winds from an incoming cold front are expected to test firefighters working on a blaze that has burned about 6,500 acres in southeast Wyoming's Medicine Bow National Forest.

The lightning-caused fire was reported Sunday and is about 20 miles northwest of Wheatland. It is burning in rugged terrain with mixed ponderosa pine, brush and grass.

The National Weather Service is forecasting 15-25 mph winds, with gusts of up to 40 mph, in the area Saturday. The blaze is 50 percent contained.

Two die in Casper crash between car, motorcycle

CASPER (AP) -- Authorities say two people were killed in a crash in Casper that involved a car and a motorcycle.

Casper police say the car's driver was turning left at an intersection Friday when a motorcycle crashed into the passenger side. The car's passenger and the motorcyclist were killed.

The victims' identities have not been released, and the crash remains under investigation.

Park gets $200,000 in grants from foundation

CHEYENNE (AP) -- The Yellowstone Park Foundation has provided more than $200,000 in grants for various projects in the park, including bat research, energy use reduction and preservation of Yellowstone's heritage.

Each year, Yellowstone's superintendent submits proposals to the Yellowstone Park Foundation for projects that are beyond the financial capacity of the National Park Service.

For instance, $40,000 will be used to replace outdated outdoor lighting fixtures in the Mammoth Hot Springs Historic District with energy-efficient lights. And another $60,000 will be used for historic documentation and preservation in the Old Faithful Lower Hamilton Store, which was built in 1897.

More than 15,000 individuals, foundations, and corporations donated to the nonprofit Yellowstone Park Foundation in the past year.

Rare tornado sutrprises residents in Wyo, Colo.

CHEYENNE (AP) -- Astonished residents were digging out and cleaning up this weekend after a rare, quarter-mile-wide tornado cut a swath across mainly open country in southeastern Wyoming, ripping off roofs and shingles, destroying outbuildings and derailing empty train cars.

The twister, which carried winds of up to 135 mph, was part of a powerful storm system that rolled through parts of Colorado and Wyoming on Thursday, packing heavy rains, high winds and hail. The storms followed a round of nasty late spring weather that pummeled the region.

The tornado passed through a sparsely populated area near Wheatland, a small city about 70 miles north of Cheyenne. It left eight structures heavily damaged and caused lesser damage three structures, said Kelly Ruiz of the state's Office of Homeland Security.

Some power lines also were downed. Only one person suffered minor injuries.

Kim Eike said the tornado went right over her house, which was still standing, though battered.

"We lost a camper, it blew out the windows in our house, blew off the shingles clear down to the plywood, but we didn't lose the roof," Eike, whose property is about 8 miles south of Wheatland, said Friday.

Eike was watching the twister with co-workers at First State Bank in Wheatland when one pointed out it was near Eike's house. She said the pig barn and door from the main barn also were lost.

No one was home at the time, she said, noting that a couple in another house in the area rode out the storm in their basement.

Don Farrier, a Wheatland restaurateur, said his house about 6.5 miles from Wheatland was damaged and will need a new roof. He said he lost some trees, and a shed on his property was knocked down.

Farrier was at his restaurant when he saw the tornado and decided to drive toward his home.

"I stopped and watched it for a while," he said. "It sure wasn't moving very fast, but you could tell it was a big tornado for this part of the country."

National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Emanuel said the tornado was a quarter-mile wide and stayed on the ground for much of its 20-mile path from west of Wheatland to northeast of Chugwater.

The area is about 60 miles north of Cheyenne.

Hail the size of golf balls also was reported in the Wheatland area, and 2-inch hail was reported in Laramie, the National Weather Service said.

The tornado knocked over five empty cars on a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train near parked Wheatland, railroad spokesman Gus Melonas said.

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