Citing safety issues, an elite federal team declined to join the fight against a northern Idaho fire last week.
Anne Veseth, 20, of Moscow, was then killed on Aug. 12 when she was struck by a falling tree while battling the fire near Orofino.
The Montana-based Flathead Hotshots team refused to engage the blaze on Aug. 11 after encountering what it described as poor communication among Idaho-based firefighters, some of whom had no protective clothing or shelters. That’s according to a report on SAFENET, an anonymous federal reporting system for wildland firefighters to document their concerns.
The report, dated Aug. 14, describes a chaotic scene, with a “hodge-podge” of firefighters that included a crew of Idaho state prison inmates forced to dodge trees and rocks hurtling down a mountainside.
The inmate crew “had been chased up the hill several times due to fire below them and big rocks coming down the hill,” according to the Hotshot report.