Firefighter fatality on Mendocino Complex of Fires

(UPDATED at 3:02 p.m. PDT August 14, 2018)

Matthew Burchett
Matthew Burchett. Photo: Draper City FD

Draper City, Utah has identified the firefighter that was killed August 13 on the Mendocino Complex as Draper Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett. He leaves behind his wife and their 6-year-old son.

Below is a press release that the city issued today.

Press Release 8/14/2018 from Draper City.

1020 East Pioneer Rd.
Draper, UT 84020

Media Release

August 14, 2018

Draper Battalion Chief Dies Fighting Mendocino Fire

DRAPER, Utah. – It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the tragic loss of one of our own. Last night while fighting the Mendocino Complex Wildfire in California, Draper Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett lost his life in the line of duty. Draper deployed five fire fighters to California on August 2nd, and the team has worked tirelessly to protect lives and property. The entire community of Draper is grieving our loss.

Chief Burchett came to Draper City Fire Department in May of this year. Prior to working for Draper, he worked for Unified Fire Authority for the past 20 years. Chief Burchett had extensive experience in wildland and structure fire. Chief Burchett leaves behind a wife and a young son. He was 42 years old.

This is not only a loss for our Draper Fire Department, but a loss for all fire departments in the Nation.

We appreciate all the heartfelt support from the Draper Community, Cal Fire, the State of Utah, and our family of firefighters from across the nation.

At this time, we ask for some privacy for Chief Burchett’s family as they process this tragedy.

In the coming days we will have information about funeral plans, a donation fund for Matt’s family and more details as they become available.

Another release issued by Draper City on August 14 included a statement from the Fire Chief:

Draper City’s Fire Chief Clint Smith is out of the country and he has given us his statement about this tragic event.

“Draper City Fire Department has no words to describe the depth of sorrow we are feeling upon learning of the death of Battalion Chief Matt Burchett while assisting with the devastating California Wildfires. Matt is a true hero who has given the ultimate sacrifice while serving others. Matt is a strong leader and experienced wildland firefighter who always put the safety and needs of his subordinates first, but most of all, Matt was a devoted husband and loving father. His family was his world. We are grateful to those fellow firefighters that were with Matt and for the immediate aid they were able to render. We pray for all firefighters, friend and family affected by this tragic loss. This event has rocked our small department to its very core but we will work to honor Matt’s legacy and sacrifice and care for his family.”

(UPDATED at 8:22 a.m. PDT August 14, 2018)

Officials on the Mendocino Complex of Fires reported Monday night that a Utah firefighter who was working on the incident was killed in an accident. No other details or the identity of the person has been released.

Fact finding is ongoing and notification of next of kin is in progress.

We send out our sincere condolences to the firefighter’s friends, family, and co-workers.

The sender of the tweet below is in Draper City, Utah.

It has been a tragic summer in California. Five other agency employees or contractors have died in the line of duty in the last month while working on wildfires in the state:

-Andrew Jason Brake, a heavy equipment mechanic, died August 9 on the Carr Fire.
–Don Ray Smith, contract dozer operator, of Pollock Pines, CA, on the Carr Fire July 26.
–Redding fire Inspector Jeremy Stoke, Fire Inspector for the Redding, CA Fire department, on the Carr Fire July 26.
–Brian Hughes, Captain on National Park Service Arrowhead Hotshots, Ferguson Fire, July 29.
–Braden Varney, CAL FIRE Heavy Fire Equipment Operator, July 14, Ferguson Fire.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Tom.
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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

4 thoughts on “Firefighter fatality on Mendocino Complex of Fires”

  1. Condolences to Chief Burchett’s family .Another brave man down in Ca. [ six this year is 6 too many] ! Seems like the politicians and bureaucracy need to get out in front of these fires ,and in the future have more resources and be better prepared ? We need a “war ” on Wildfires . Who doesn’t get it ?

  2. Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett’s funeral will be livestreamed on the Draper City Facebook page on Monday, Aug 20. I don’t know the time but probably around noon, MDT.

  3. Hope we find ways to protect our firefighters more during the action. It is no sense to lose any of them please!

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