Utah firefighter killed battling Mendocino Complex Fires had extensive experience

MENDOCINO COUNTY, Calif. -- A Utah firefighter who died battling the largest recorded wildfire in California history leaves behind a wife and 6-year-old son.

City of Draper Mayor Troy Walker told reporters Tuesday that Matthew Burchett was a battalion chief who joined the Salt Lake City suburb's fire department in May after 20 years with another agency in the area. He says the 42-year-old had extensive experience battling wildfires.

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Walker had no details about Burchett's death. Authorities say Burchett died Monday night at a hospital after being injured in the Mendocino Complex Fire north of San Francisco.

He was one of five firefighters the city sent to California in early August.

Fellow Battalion Chief Bart Vawdrey says Burchett had worked other large fires and was hired to oversee Draper's wildland firefighting efforts because of his experience. He says Burchett was a good man with a dry wit.

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