Casper Fire-EMS Chief Kenneth King will retire effective Friday, a month earlier than scheduled, City Manager Carter Napier said Tuesday.

"He came in and visited with me today, and basically asked if he had that option available to him," Napier said.

"I said, 'certainly,' and pursuant to that discussion he decided to go ahead and pull the trigger on an early retirement, which would effectively start on December 1," Napier said.

In a letter to the city, King said he was retiring early because of some vacation plans, Napier said.

Napier will appoint an interim chief until the city hires a new chief, he said.

King's retirement originally was set for Jan. 2, 2018. He joined the fire department 37 years ago. Former City Manager John Patterson appointed him as chief in July 2013.

King announced his retirement on Oct. 19, 2016, a few hours after he issued an apology for an email he called a joke about suppressing evidence in the Oct. 2015 Cole Creek Fire.

The 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.

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.

Napier said Tuesday that King's new retirement date will not affect the legal process about the claims against the city. "I wouldn't think that it would. No."

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