SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The official report on last month’s death of a Draper firefighter battling a California wildfire reveals that thousands of gallons of flame-retardant were dropped on him from a Boeing 747 mistakenly flying only 100 feet above the treetops.

The pilot and a supervisor flying ahead in a small guide plane led the giant modified jetliner nearly into the trees on Aug. 13 because the pilots failed to recognize that there was a hill in the flight path, according to the Green Sheet report by the state’s firefighting agency.

Because of the near ground-level release, the retardant struck with such force it uprooted an 87-foot tree that fell on Matthew Burchett, a 42-year-old battalion chief for Draper who was helping with the Mendocino Complex Fire north of San Francisco.

Another large tree was snapped by the force of nearly 20,000 gallons of liquid and three firefighters were injured, one seriously.

The guide pilot “made a ‘show me’ run” for the 747 pilot over the intended path for the retardant drop, and marked the path for the jet with a smoke trail, according to the report.

“Obscured by heavy vegetation and unknown to the (747) pilot, a rise in elevation occurred along the flight …read more


Source:: Deseret News – Top stories

      

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