In a detailed but heart-breaking 43-page report, describing the final moments of 20-year-old Anne Veseth of Moscow before she was killed in the August 2012 Streep Corner Wildfire, the U.S. Forest Service pushed back Friday against a report released earlier this week by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that said the USFS should be fined in connection with the tragedy.
Among the several violations listed in OSHA's report were failure to keep crews informed of weather reports and not knowing what the fire was doing at all times. The report also pointed to "communication problems" and inadequate "maintaining control of workforces."
But the Forest Service, in its own report, concluded that human error was not responsible for the accident. The report said Veseth died instantly when a green cedar that had been weakened by fire struck her in the head.
The report included a chilling narrative:
"With his fists and teeth clenched, [another firefighter] expects to be hit. He hears a tremendous sound as the trees crash downward and feels the whip of limbs on each side of him. He falls down, but upon realizing he is uninjured, quickly gets up and looks for [Veseth], who he thought had been right behind him. He finds her three or four strides uphill under the tree branches. After quickly clearing them away, he determines she did not survive."
The report adds that "numerous individuals at the accident scene performed admirably."