A Utah man died Monday night at a California hospital after he was injured while battling the massive Mendocino Complex wildfire north of San Francisco, the largest recorded blaze in the state's history.
Firefighter Matthew Burchett leaves behind a wife and a young son and worked for the Draper Fire Department.
“A firefighter from Utah, who was working on an active portion of the fire, was injured this evening,” said Cal Fire Incident Commander Sean Kavanaugh, who spoke at a press conference late Monday night. “The firefighter was airlifted to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. We are extremely heartbroken from this loss. We are dedicated to investigating what happened and will release more information as it comes available.”
The Mendocino Complex are twin fires being fought together and has been burning for more than two weeks. The fire has burned nearly 150 homes and about 547 square miles of brush and forest - an area larger than the city of Los Angeles.
Sheriff Thomas Allman from Mendocino County is urging citizens to listen to evacuation orders.
“We have two areas of this fire which are under mandatory evacuation," he said. "These are very dangerous areas. We have citizens who have decided not to leave this mandatory evacuation for whatever reason. I’m urging all citizens to listen to the mandatory evacuation warnings – to heed the warnings – and understand that if this could happen to a firefighter, it certainly could happen to citizens.”
Firefighters from all over the country have been helping California battle a series of deadly wildfires in recent weeks that have spread through drought-parched forests and rural communities. Six firefighters have died in those wildfires.