Fallen Draper firefighter returns to Utah

Local News

WEST VALLEY CITY (News4Utah)-The body of the Draper firefighter killed while battling the Mendocino Complex fire in California returned home Wednesday.

The California National Guard transported the remains of 42-year-old Draper Battalion Chief Matt Burchett in a C130-J plane. Chief Burchett’s wife, brother, and a family friend flew to the California airport on Governor Herbert’s private plane to escort him home.

“We’re very appreciative of the media and the community for their show of support,” said Keith Garner, a spokesman for the Unified Fire Authority. It’s been really great.”

Even on Facebook, people from Northern California where Burchett died Monday, families are expressing support and grateful for trying to save their homes.

Lisa F. Mammina posted: “Draper Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett will always be remembered as a hero in Lake and Mendocino County CA.”

Sherry Vincent posted: “God bless Battalion Chief Matt Burchett’s family including Draper City Fire Department, firefighters all over the world and most importantly his family. We are truly sorry for this loss here in Lake County, Ca. Our prayers are with you all.” 

California Governor Jerry Brown offered his condolences:

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It’s now confirmed that a tree struck Burchett who was on a scouting mission, killing him.

“It’s a scary thing and something that all wildland firefighters are taught to look out for,” said Garner.  “But you can’t notice everything, unfortunately. As far as we know, that’s what it is.”

Burchett joined the Draper Fire Department in May after 20 years with Unified Fire Authority.  Garner said his brother who is on the return flight with his widow are the two close friends.

Even firefighters in California joined in paying their respects. Overnight, a firefighter honor guard stood guard outside the mortuary in Ukiah, Calif. 

“We follow the process of no one left behind and that includes our live and our deceased,” Garner said.  “And so it’s kind of a traditional thing where we like to be able to pay our respects and be with the body through the whole process.

At the Utah Air Guard airport, fire trucks from Draper, Unified, Salt Lake City, Mountain Green and many others arrived to be part of the procession.   From there the casket traveled to the Jenkins-Soffe Mortuary located at 100 W. So. Jordan Parkway in South Jordan. 

Funeral services will be held Monday, Aug. 20. at the Maverik Center Arena located at 3200 Decker Lake Drive in West Valley City.

Details behind the services have not been released.

If you’d like to help Battalion Chief Matt Burchett’s family by donating to the Utah Firefighter’s Emerald Society, click here. 100% of the funds raised will go towards his family. 

Fallen Draper City Battalion Chief Matt Burchett begins the journey home from California.

Battalion Chief Matt Burchett’s procession passes by the Mendocino Complex fire basecamp in Ukiah, Calif. 

The procession arrives at the airport in California. 

The process arrives at Utah Air National Guard Base.

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