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Jul 5, 2012 The Associated Press

Undeveloped coal mine sold

SHERIDAN -- Cloud Peak Energy has purchased an undeveloped coal mine along the Wyoming-Montana border that has the potential to bring hundreds of jobs to the Sheridan area.

Wyoming-based Cloud Peak paid $300 million for the Youngs Creek Mining Company, a joint venture between Chevron USA Inc. and CONSOL Energy Inc.

The mine is already permitted. A 2008 study found that developing it could create about 200 jobs at the mine as well as about 300 supporting jobs in the area, including in rail operations and retail businesses.

Cloud Peak says the mine is well positioned to support exports of coal to Asia through the Pacific Northwest if there's enough terminal capacity on the West Coast.

The company also owns the Spring Creek mine in Montana.

Body found after tubing accident

CASPER -- The Casper Fire Department has recovered the body of a man who fell from his inflatable tube in the North Platte River late last month.

The man, whose name has not been released, fell into the water June 26 while trying to grab a cooler from the tube. His body was found Monday morning tangled in debris downstream from where he disappeared.

Craig Kidder with the fire department says the man is believed to have drowned.

Cowlitz fire chief helping fight

LONGVIEW, Wash. -- A Cowlitz County fire and rescue chief is getting a lot of practice fighting wildfires as he toils on a 138-mile blaze in Wyoming, one of roughly 45 large fires burning across the nation.

Chief Dave LaFave has taken a lead role at the fire near Douglas where he is overseeing a crew of about 700 firefighters.

LaFave is training to be an incident commander. He wrote in an email that when he is done with his work in Wyoming, he will be qualified to serve as the top emergency responder on the nation's worst disasters, including a large-scale terrorist attack, oil spill or hurricane.

LaFave has been training for the federal qualification for years and has worked on several large blazes, including a fire near Winthrop, Wash., in 2006 and a blaze in Montana in 2007.

The Wyoming blaze is challenging because it involves very dry fuel, sustained winds of 15 to 25 mph and "very complex and extremely difficult terrain," LaFave said Monday.

He said 280 homes are within the fire's perimeter and another 320 homes within three miles of the flames.

An Air National Guard C-130 firefighting aircraft that crashed Sunday in South Dakota, killing at least one crew member and injuring others had very likely been flying the Wyoming fire earlier in the day, LaFave said.

Dozens of fires are burning in 11 states, making this summer one of the busiest and most destructive wildfire seasons in the West.

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