As crews deploy to California, they’re remembering fallen Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett

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Members of Draper City Fire Department are among roughly three dozen Utah firefighters who deployed to California on Saturday.

Their response comes nearly two years to the date of the loss of Draper City Fire’s Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett.

“Time heals wounds, but time doesn’t help you forget,” said Battalion Chief Robert Lambert.

“I can’t say enough,” said Deputy Chief Bart Vawdrey. “There’s probably not a day that goes by that I personally don’t think of Matt’s family and the sacrifice that Chief Burchett has made for our community.”

The 42-year-old died battling the Mendocino Complex Fire in California on August 13, 2018.

“Even though, he was in California at the time, he was one of the best wildland firefighters this state had to offer,” said Vawdrey.

It was after a 747 Supertanker dropped a load of retardant too close to the ground, causing a tree to fall. Burchett was killed, two others injured.

“This incident just goes to show this could happen to anyone at any level,” said Vawdrey.

As crews deployed, they held their memories of Burchett near.

“Even if you didn’t know that’s what he was doing, he was always trying to get the best out of you,” said Lambert.

“I try to share the memories that I have of exceptional leader, a caring individual,” said Captain Michael Shanahan. “Somebody who was always trying to get the best out of everybody.”

There is a memorial honoring Burchett outside of the Draper City Fire Department. His name was also added to the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Emmitsburg, Maryland in 2019.

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