Matthew David Burchett, Battalion Chief

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Battalion Chief Burchett was assigned to the Ranch Fire, part of the Mendocino Complex fire north of San Francisco, California.

Battalion Chief Burchett and his crews were assigned to reinforce a dozer line and place a hose lay to hold a firing operation.  Air tankers were to make fire retardant drops along the dozer line to supplement the work of the crews.

At approximately 1725hrs, a Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) made a drop near the work position of Battalion Chief Burchett and his crew.  A rise in elevation concealed by vegetation that was unknown to the pilot resulted in the drop only being approximately 100 feet above the treetops.

The force of the drop uprooted an 87-foot tall tree and the tree fell on Battalion Chief Burchett, fatally injuring him.  Three other firefighters also received injuries in the incident.

Additional information about this incident is available at https://www.wildfirelessons.net/home.  Use the search function to find “Ranch Fire Tree Strike Fatality”.

Incident Location: Ranch Fire, Mendocino Complex Fire, CA (off Highway 20 near Potter Valley, northeast of Ukiah) (U.S. National Grid: 10S DJ 8937 5205 (DD: 39.318, -123.123))

Department information

Draper City Fire Department
1020 E. Pioneer Road
Draper, Utah 84020

Chief: Clint Smith

Matthew David Burchett was honored on the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland and was included in the USFA’s annual report Firefighter Fatalities in the United States.
Age: 42
Rank: Battalion Chief
Classification: Career
Incident date: August 13, 2018 17:25
Date of death: August 13, 2018
Cause of death: Struck By
Nature of death: Trauma
Activity type: Advance Hose Lines/Fire Attack (includes Wildland)
Emergency duty: Yes
Duty type: On-Scene Fire
Fixed property use: Outdoor Property