BOISE -- As Gov. Butch Otter promotes more state-funded groups to help fight wildfires, an existing fire protective association is under scrutiny from federal safety investigators following a fatal accident last summer.

In his January State of the State address, Otter cited 20-year-old firefighter Anne Veseth's Aug. 12 death while fighting a wildfire near Orofino as a reason for spending $400,000 to help Idaho ranchers create new volunteer fire protective associations to help extinguish destructive range fires.

Earlier this month, however, investigators with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed fining the Clearwater-Potlatch Timber Protective Association $14,000 -- for violations of safety rules on the fire where Veseth died.

As Idaho enlists ranchers to knock down blazes, state forester David Groeschl said their training will be essential in maximizing firefighter safety.

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