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Firefighter’s death caused by a retardant drop from 747

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – A new report says a firefighter battling the largest forest fire in the history of California was killed in the last month, when thousands of gallons of flame-suppressing liquid were dropped from a Boeing 747 flying just 100 feet (30 meters) above the tops of the trees.

The flame retardant hit with such force, it uprooted a 87-foot (27-meter) tree fell on Matthew Burchett. He was a battalion chief of Utah to help with the Mendocino Complex Fires north of San Francisco.

The report released Friday by California fire fighting agency says the pilot in a small lead plane almost ran the jetliner in the trees, because the pilots failed to recognize a hill in the middle of the flight path. Firefighters were busy on the hill.

Another large tree and broke through the liquid, and injured three firefighters, one seriously.

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