SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – A preliminary report says a firefighter died last week from falling tree debris after a retardant drop on California’s largest-ever wildfire.
The "blue sheet" summary report by California fire officials says Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett was struck by falling tree debris on Aug. 13 at the Mendocino Complex Fire after a large air tanker completed a drop. Three other firefighters had minor injuries.
The two-paragraph summary calls for an immediate corrective action, saying firefighters must remain clear of areas with overhead hazards during retardant drops.
Paul Grenier, a spokesman for California’s firefighting agency, said he couldn’t provide more details because the investigation is continuing.
Funeral services for the 42-year-old Burchett are being held Monday in his home state of Utah. He leaves behind a wife and 7-year-old son.
Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett (Photo courtesy Draper City, Utah)