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Firefighter’s widow sues over California fire death

The casket of Draper Battalion Chief Matt Burchett is carried from the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018.
The casket of Draper Battalion Chief Matt Burchett is carried from the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Monday, Aug. 20, 2018.
Ravell Call, Deseret News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — 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.

Draper Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett
Draper Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett
Draper City

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.

The retardant struck with such force it uprooted an 87-foot 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.