State briefs

Burn grows out of control, destroys home

WORLAND (WNE) – A controlled burn, which appeared to be out, was reignited by high winds Sunday evening, causing a complete loss of the home of Larry Costalez on U.S. Highway 20 north of Worland.

No injuries were caused by the fire.

“They were doing some property clean up on that property, burning some leaves and piles of stuff. He’d been watching it for several hours, went to have dinner and thought it was taken care of and out and when that high wind came out last night, it blew it everywhere. Started the deck and then from there it ignited the house. Got into the house and then from there the trees and so forth,” Worland Fire Department Chief Chris Kocher said.

“The fire became highly wind driven and it was difficult to contain due to the high winds,” he added.

According to the National Weather Service, the Worland area experienced gusts of wind up to 59 mph Sunday evening.

U.S. 20 was closed to thru traffic most of the evening while fire crews fought to control the blaze. The fire was called in around 8:35 p.m. Sunday evening.

Kocher stated that the fire was fought with three structure engines, the ladder truck, two wildland units and two command units. Crews fought the blaze until around 2:48 Monday morning, returning at daylight to mop up.

1,300-acre fire burns in Yellowstone

CODY (WNE) — The Bacon Rind Fire in Yellowstone grew over the weekend and an area closure in now in effect.

Warm temperatures, drier air and higher winds last weekend fueled growth of the fire 1,321 acres. An area closure in the northwest corner of the park is in effect, impacting all park trails in that area. Trail status can be found in the park’s Backcountry Situation Report.

All roads and visitor facilities in the park and surrounding communities remain open.

Fire growth is expected to be moderate this week due to lower temperatures and increased moisture. Up-to-date fire information can be found on InciWeb.

A public fire information phone line has been established at (406) 640-3048.

A new fire also was detected south of Heart Lake. The Basin Creek Fire was detected on Aug. 10 and is 0.2 acres burning in a forested area 5 miles south of Heart Lake.

Man accused of beating 84-year-old stepfather

GILLETTE (WNE) — A 57-year-old man recently released from the Wyoming State Hospital has been charged with aggravated assault and battery after he allegedly beat his 84-year-old stepfather while he was lying in his bed.

A preliminary hearing for Gary Robert Baker had been scheduled for Aug. 13, but a motion to suspend the proceedings has been filed so that Baker can undergo a mental examination.

He remains in Campbell County jail with a $5000 cash-only bond.

The stepfather told police he was lying in bed July 31 when Baker came into his room, got on top of him, held him down with one hand and beat him with the other, according to an affidavit of probable cause, which also noted that Baker would periodically switch hands.

The man said that Baker hit him at least 20 times with his fists, striking him all over his body, his face and stuck his finger in his left eye. Police noted that his left eye was completely swollen shut and bruised, he was bleeding from his eye and nose and had bruising on his face and torso. The man refused to be taken to the hospital, saying he was “tough.”

The man didn’t know why Baker stopped beating him, but when he did, he said he was going to call 911.

When police arrived, Baker told them: “He is the devil in there and I’m God, that’s what the problem is.” He also said the fight was about money.

He told police he hit the man “enough to make him bleed,” according to the affidavit.

Grand Teton reopens Hidden Falls

JACKSON (WNE) — The crack wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, which is to say Grand Teton National Park has reopened the Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point areas after a month-long closure.

The exceedingly popular west shore Jenny Lake hiking destinations have been off limits since July 10 due to a potentially hazardous fissure in the rock wall that looms above the scenic 100-foot-tall cascade. While that crack, thought to have started last year, still might eventually give way, park rangers announced Friday that they wouldn’t be putting the public into an unacceptably high-risk situation by lifting the closure.

“Let’s just assume the rock is going to fall, where is it going to go?” Teton Park spokesman Andrew White said. “We determined it was unlikely that rock would reach the Hidden Falls viewing area. Part of that is due to the distance, and part of it is due to the terrain.”

Park rangers who have monitored the roughly 100-foot-long crack have not completed a written “risk assessment” that informed the decision to reopen.

The “Practice Rocks” climbing area, where the fissure is located, remains closed to the public. A buck-and-rail fence lines the west side of the Hidden Falls viewing area, delineating the closed area.

The traditional scenic viewpoint at Inspiration Point remains closed due to unrelated trail rehabilitation, but a nearby lookout called Lower Inspiration Point is once again accessible.

Once the closure lifted Friday morning, visitors were quick to take advantage of it. Around 2000 people offload from the Jenny Lake Boating shuffles on a busy summer day, and the majority of them hike up to see the waterfalls and lookout.