Utah firefighter’s widow sues over California fire death

Local (Utah/State News)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The widow of a Utah firefighter who was killed when a supertanker dropped nearly 20,000 gallons of fire retardant near his position fighting a Northern California fire is suing Cal Fire and the aircraft company for alleged negligence.

State investigators found 42-year-old battalion chief Matthew Burchett of Draper, Utah, died last August when fire retardant was dropped from an aircraft flying barely above the treetops because spotters mistakenly sent it on a route too close to the ground.

FILE – In this Aug. 20, 2018, file photo, the casket with fallen Utah firefighter Matthew Burchett is loaded into a fire engine after the funeral at the Maverik Center in West Valley City, Utah. The widow of Burchett who was killed when a supertanker dropped nearly 20,000 gallons of fire retardant near his position fighting a Northern California fire is suing Cal Fire and the aircraft company for alleged negligence. The Sacramento Bee reports that a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, by Burchett’s widow, Heather, and son, Griffin, says the firefighter was in a “safe zone” when the retardant was dropped. (Rick Egan/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP, File)

The retardant struck with such force it uprooted an 87-foot (27-meter) tree that fell on Burchett.

The Sacramento Bee reports that a lawsuit filed Wednesday by Burchett’s widow and son says the firefighter was in a “safe zone” when the retardant was dropped.

Cal Fire did not immediately comment on the lawsuit.

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Information from: The Sacramento Bee, http://www.sacbee.com

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