A 20-year-old firefighter killed Sunday while working an Idaho forest fire was identified as Anne Veseth, a Moscow, Idaho, native in her second year of school at Lewis-Clark State College.

Phil Sammon of the U.S. Forest Service’s Northern Region office in Missoula said Veseth was working with a hand crew on the Steep Corner fire 80 miles southeast of Coeur d’Alene when she was struck by a falling tree.

A team of investigators was expected to arrive at the scene late Monday or Tuesday to determine more about the accident.

Veseth was a qualified level 2 firefighter skilled in initial attack and general firefighting duties. She’d already worked wildfires in Arizona and Colorado this season, the agency said.

“The Forest Service family is in mourning following the tragic death of one of our firefighters,” U.S. Forest Chief Tom Tidwell said in a written statement. “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of this brave young woman.”

In a 2010 feature story, the Lewistown (Idaho) Tribune lauded Veseth’s drive and her 3.9 grade-point average. She won several academic scholarships covering nearly all of her college tuition.

But while her older sisters attended the University of Idaho, Veseth chose to attend Lewis-Clark College to become a mechanic.

Before leaving high school, she told the newspaper she enjoyed the “changing relationships, growing up and figuring out what I wanted out of life.”

Her father, Roger Veseth, died in 2003 after an accident. Her mother, Claire, was a nurse at Moscow Family Medicine. Anne Veseth told the paper her father’s passing had changed her life.

“It made me appreciate who I have in my life, while I have them,” Veseth had said. “It made me realize life is short.”

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Roughly 58 people have died fighting fires on Forest Service land between 2002 and 2011. Of those, eight died in air-tanker accidents, 22 in helicopter accidents and 10 from fire.

Only two died from hazardous trees, the Forest Service said.

“The Forest Service is devastated by the loss of one of our own,” Nez Perce-Clearwater Forest Supervisor Rick Brazell said. “We ask the public to join us in keeping the family in their thoughts and prayers.”

Veseth was a seasonal firefighter for the Nez Perce-Clearwater forests, and was on a crew dispatched to the Steep Corner fire as an assist to the Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association.

Reporter Martin Kidston can be reached at 523-5260 or at martin.kidston@missoulian.com.


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