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Full Honor Guard Planned For Battalion Chief Matt Burchett

Draper Battalion Chief Matt Burchett, killed Monday fighting the Mendocino Complex Fire

The Draper City Fire Battalion Chief who was killed this week battling California wildfires will receive a full honor guard escort from Ukiah, California to Salt Lake City on Wednesday.

Matthew Burchett was killed Monday night on the front lines of the Mendocino Complex Fire north of San Francisco. A joint statement from the Unified Fire Authority and Draper City officials said the California Air National Guard is transporting his body from the Ukiah Municipal Airport.

Chief Burchett's wife, brother and a family friend are flying to California on Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's private plane to bring Burchett back home.

The Mendocino Complex Fire is the largest blaze in California history, having burned 550 square miles so far. Burchett was among a group of 38 firefighters from Utah who went to the state to aid emergency crews.

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection division chief Todd Derum told the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa that Burchett was battling flames when a tree fell on him and other firefighters.

Derum the division chief for Sonoma, Lake and Napa counties, said three others were injured in the incident.

He also said Burchett and the Utah crew were working alongside California firefighters, who rushed to give him medical aid after he was injured.

Mendocino Complex Fire spokesman Christian Linnemann has not confirmed the cause of death. He would not immediately confirm how Burchett died because of the ongoing investigation.

Gov. Gary Herbert has ordered state and national flags to be lowered on the day of Burchett's funeral.


Bob Nelson is a graduate of the University of Utah with a BA in mass communications. He began his radio career at KUER in 1978 when it was still in Kingsbury Hall. That’s also where he met his wife, Maria Shilaos, in 1981. Bob left KUER for commercial radio where he worked for 25 years, and he is thrilled to be back at KUER. Bob and his family are part of an explorer group, fondly known as The Hordes and Masses, which has been seeking out ghost towns and little-known places in Utah for more than twenty years.
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