Casper’s Fire-EMS Chief Kenneth King announced his resignation Wednesday, just hours after he issued an apology for an email he called a joke about suppressing evidence in the Oct. 2015 Cole Creek Fire.

King's retirement is effective Jan. 2, 2018, according to a news release from Casper City Manager V.H. McDonald.

The lengthy process to find Casper’s next fire chief will begin immediately, according to McDonald

King joined the fire department 36 years ago, and became the chief in July 2013.

“Chief King has long been dedicated and committed to fire service and the community. I
appreciate Chief King’s earlier apology to the community and believe it to be sincerely heartfelt,” McDonald said.

The Cole Creek Fire fire started with a burning wood chip pile at the landfill on Oct. 10. The next day, winds whipped the embers into a blaze that burned over 16 square miles and destroyed 14 homes.

During the investigation, King asked one of his inspectors on Oct. 14, 2015, to eliminate "bad parts" of video evidence being sought by the State Fire Marshal and the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation, according to emails obtained by the Casper Star-Tribune as part of a public records request.

King later told the Star-Tribune he sent the email as a joke and admitted it was in poor taste.

Wednesday, king apologized, saying he deeply regretted his insensitive words and lack of judgment, and how his actions offended and embarrassed the community and the city.

The city faces more than $1.7 million in claims related to the fire.

State law limits the city’s total liability is $500,000.