DRAPER, Utah (News4Utah) — The Utah firefighter family is mourning the tragic loss of Draper Battalion Chief Matt Burchett.
Burchett died Monday night fighting the Mendocino Complex Fire in California, the largest wildfire in state history.
Burchett said goodbye to his wife and son in August, volunteering to help fight the largest wildfire in California history alongside 7 other Utah agencies.
Retired Utah firefighter, Dave Ulibarri says he’s devastated to learn the news. He knew Burchett for 20 years.
Ulibarri says they were really good friends.
“(I’m) just devastated,” said Ulibarri. “You’re not just co-workers. It’s sad.”
Burchett was hit by a falling tree and died.
“With all the experience he had, if it can happen to him, it can happen to anybody,” said Ulibarri. “These fires are dangerous.”
Ulibarri says he formed a special brotherly bond with Burchett.
“We lived together, you know? We eat (and) cook meals together. We go into burning buildings together. We go into unspeakable situations together and we bond,” said Ulibarri.
Ulibarri says Burchett had a keen skill set and was passionate about protecting people.
“With his skill set, those large fires were right in his wheelhouse because he knew how to position people,” said Ulibarri. “He knew the tactics on large fires like that and it’s a great amount of experience that we’ve lost.”
Ulibarri says Burchett died as a hero and his family should be very proud.
“He’s a great guy,” said Ulibarri. “We’re going to miss him.”
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.