Montana Hotshot Team Cites Safety Issues in Deadly Idaho Fire
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A member of an elite federal firefighting team says safety concerns kept the group from engaging a northern Idaho wildfire one day before a 20-year-old firefighter was killed.
Anne Veseth of Moscow was killed Aug. 12 when she was struck by a tree while battling the Steep Corner Fire.
According to a report filed by the Montana-based Flathead Hotshots, the team declined to fight the blaze near Orofino on Aug. 11 after encountering poor communication among Idaho-based firefighters, some of them without protective clothing or shelters.
The report describes a chaotic scene, with a "hodge-podge" of firefighters that included Idaho prison inmates forced to dodge trees and rocks hurtling down a steep mountainside.
Federal and state officials are investigating Veseth's death.
The Lewiston Tribune initially reported on the team's report.