Utah City Mourns Battalion Chief Killed on Front Lines of Ranch Fire

CLEARLAKE -- Draper City Fire Battalion Chief Matt Burchett spoke to reporters the day he left Utah for California.

Then, on Monday night, his family learned he would not be coming back.

"It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the tragic loss of one of our own," said Draper City's Mayor Troy Walker.

Walker made the announcement the following morning, adding 42-year-old Burchett is survived by his son and wife.

"Draper deployed five firefighters from here on August the 2nd and the team has worked tirelessly to protect lives and property," Walker said. "The entire community of Draper is grieving his loss."

Cal Fire reports Burchett was injured when a tree fell on him as he battled the Ranch Fire. He died after being flown to a local hospital.

Burchett joined Draper City in May to head the city’s wildland fire program. Before that, he served for 20 years with Salt Lake City’s Unified Fire Authority.

"I’ve known Matt for a long time, for over 20 years. It’s tough," said Draper City Fire Battalion Chief Bob Bowery.

Colleagues say Burchett was eager to help battle the Mendocino Complex fires, which have now burned more than 354,000 acres.

"And Matt jumped at the chance to go assist in California and I think anybody in our department would do the same," Bowery said. "He was a good man. He had a very dry wit. If I had to describe him, I would describe him as a master of his craft."

"You know, California is bad but other states have it just as bad and it’s nice that all the states come together and help each other," said Clearlake resident Kitty.

Meanwhile, in Lake County, residents were grateful for the help from out of state but feel terrible that Burchett had to sacrifice so much.

"It’s sad, you feel sorry for their families," Kitty said.