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Posts tagged: Anne Veseth

Idaho sues timber company over firefighter death in North Idaho wildfire

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — Idaho officials have filed a lawsuit against a timber company and its contractor contending they're responsible for a wildfire that killed a 20-year-old Forest Service firefighter and burned more than 300 acres in northern Idaho. The Lewiston Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1gGpWtJ) the state filed the lawsuit Monday in 2nd District Court seeking an unspecified amount in monetary damages for costs in fighting the fire. Anne Veseth of Moscow died Aug. 12, 2012, after being struck and killed by a falling tree while fighting the Steep Corner Fire near Orofino. The lawsuit names Potlatch Land and Lumber, Potlatch Forest Holdings, Clearwater Paper Corp., Potlatch Corp., and DABCO Inc., a Kamiah-based logging contractor. Idaho officials contend a logging crew started the fire using equipment that didn't meet Forest Service standards required by law.

Idaho firefighting group reaches deal with OSHA over firefighter’s death

Officials from an Idaho firefighting organization have reached an agreement with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration over citations and fines levied after a 20-year-old firefighter was struck and killed by a falling tree while working on a wildfire last summer, according to the AP and the Lewiston Tribune. The Orofino-based Clearwater Potlatch Timber Protective Association has agreed to a $10,500 fine, down from the $14,000 fine that OSHA proposed in February for the death of U.S. Forest Service firefighter Anne Veseth of Moscow; the state Land Board authorized the agreement this week. Click below for the full report.

OSHA proposes $14,000 in fines over Idaho firefighter’s death

A fire management organization has been cited by OSHA and fined $14,000 for serious safety violations that inspectors say led to the death of U.S. Forest Service firefighter Anne Veseth last summer, the AP reports. Click below for the full report; the citation, dated Feb. 7, said the initial attack team of the Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association on the Steep Corner Fire near Orofino last August violated eight of 10 standing firefighting orders on the fire.

Grim Land Board members hear report on wildfires in the state, question safety

A grim Idaho state Land Board heard a report this morning from the state Department of Lands on the ongoing destructive wildfires in the state. Attorney General Lawrence Wasden noted that he saw the headlines in the newspaper this morning about concerns about hazards on the Steep Corner fire, in which 20-year-old Moscow firefighter Anne Veseth was killed, including questions about communications and coordination by the state Department of Lands on the fire. “I'm concerned for our own crews, making sure they have the communication, organization,” Wasden said. He asked state forester and fire official David Groeschl, “Do you feel satisfied with the communication, coordination, and organization that we have, that it would protect our firefighters?”

Groeschl responded, “We are very diligent.” He said crews receive extensive training and protective gear. “I am very proud and very confident in our folks and what they do out there,” Groeschl said. “The last thing we want to do is put them in harm's way, undue risk.” He noted that firefighting is risky. “We will continue to, as much as we can, ensure the safety of our firefighters.”

Groeschl offered condolences on Veseth's death, and noted that the state Lands Department is conducting one of four investigations into it. The others are led by OSHA, the Forest Service law enforcement branch, and a “serious accident investigation team,” he said.

Groeschl said the state has spent $7.6 million on wildland firefighting so far this season, and expects to recover about $3.1 million from other agencies, for a net cost of $4.5 million. National Guard resources have been mobilized to assist. “Resources now are being stretched thin nationally,” he said. “The next couple of weeks will continue to be challenging. We do not see any season-ending events as far as rainfall for the next couple of weeks.”

The Lands Department's firefighting goal is initial attack, he said, with the goal of containing 95 percent of new fire starts within 10 acres.

USFS crew refused to work on Steep Corner fire day before Veseth’s death, due to hazards

The Lewiston Tribune is reporting that a day before 20-year-old U.S. Forest Service firefighter Anne Veseth was killed on the Steep Corner Fire, a specialized Forest Service fire crew refused to work on the fire due to hazards including multiple cedar snags burning from halfway up down to the base. Veseth, of Moscow, was killed the next day when a tree fell and crashed into another, which fell on her. You can read the Trib's report here. Click below for more on this from the Associated Press; you can read the full SAFENET report here on the hazard concerns; hat tip to Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker for the link to the report.

Idaho to lower flags to half-staff through Sunday to honor firefighter, soldier

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― Idaho plans to fly flags at state government buildings at half-staff through Sunday, to honor a firefighter and a soldier who were recently killed in the line of duty. Anne Veseth, a 20-year-old Moscow woman, died when a tree fell and struck her last Sunday while she was working to contain a wildfire near Orofino. And 22-year-old Spc. Ethan J. Martin of Bonners Ferry and Lewiston died on Aug. 7 in Afghanistan after being wounded by small-arms fire when his unit was attacked. Veseth and Martin are being interred by their families on Saturday. Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter's spokesman Mark Warbis said on Wednesday that the lowered flags beginning on Thursday would pay tribute to Veseth and Martin and their sacrifices.

Moscow firefighter’s death highlights dangerous job crews face on fire lines

The death of 20-year-old U.S. Forest Service firefighter Anne Veseth of Moscow while fighting the Steep Corner fire near Orofino is highlighting the dangerous job crews face as at least a dozen blazes continue to burn across the state, the Associated Press reports. Veseth died Sunday when a tree fell and crashed into another tree, causing it to topple on her. “The Forest Service is devastated by the loss of one of our own,” said Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell, adding that his agency is investigating the fatal incident. “We ask the public to join us in keeping the family in their thoughts and prayers.”

Veseth, pictured here, was a student at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, where she was studying auto mechanics; her older brother also is a wildland firefighter in Idaho. You can read more here.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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