Four times during the summer of 2000, District Forester Burnett received leave from his full-time job in Oklahoma to work as a temporary firefighter for the Federal government. He had served two assignments in Florida and one assignment in Louisiana. On August 2, 2000, he accepted another assignment as the engine boss of an Oklahoma contract engine and was eventually assigned to the "Kate’s Basin" fire in Wyoming. District Forester Burnett’s engine was assigned to assist local firefighters with a burnout operation. As District Forester Burnett was sizing up the fire line, a sudden wind caused the fire to "blow up." District Forester Burnett attempted to start the pump on his engine to protect his position but was unable to start the pump. District Forester Burnett attempted to reach a safety zone and attempted to deploy his fire shelter, but was unsuccessful. District Forester Burnett was wearing brush gear at the time of his injury. District Forester Burnett died of burns. He was the first Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Forestry Services, employee to lose his life fighting a fire.