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.