Body of firefighter killed in California returns to Utah
Aug. 16, 2018
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The body of a Utah firefighter who died battling the largest recorded blaze in California history returned to his home state Wednesday.
Cal Fire officials escorted Matthew Burchett's casket Wednesday to an airport in the Northern California city of Ukiah. Burchett's wife, brother and a family friend then returned with it to Utah. In Salt Lake City, the casket was escorted to a mortuary by fire engines, Utah Highway Patrol motorcycles and police cars from Draper, where Burchett lived.
The 42-year-old was hit by a tree Monday while fighting a wildfire north of San Francisco. He was flown to a hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Burchett was among dozens of out-of-state firefighters who joined the front lines of the massive blaze.
"We all know that our job is dangerous and has those kind of possibilities. But when it's someone you're close to and it's part of your family . it really hits home pretty hard," Salt Lake City Fire Captain Cass Christopher tells the Deseret News .
Burchett, who had been a firefighter for decades, went to California last year to help fight wildfires and became the liaison between California and all of Utah's firefighters.
"We took a pretty devastating loss. It's going to be pretty difficult to get over what Matt brought to everybody," said Unified Fire Authority spokesman Eric Holmes.
Burchett also is survived by a 7-year-old son.