(KUTV) – A crew of Tooele County firefighters stood watch at an overpass Friday night to welcome back a convoy of Utah fire crews on Interstate 80.
The crews were returning from the Mendocino Complex Fire in California, where a falling tree claimed the life of Draper Fire Battalion Chief Matt Burchett earlier this week.
“It’s always great to come home, but it’s a little bit bittersweet, because they are coming home for circumstances that were out of their control and obviously are disappointing,” North Tooele Fire District firefighter Ryan Willden told 2News.
North Tooele joined Tooele City Fire and Grantsville Fire to drape an American flag and raise a fire truck ladder at the overpass in Tooele.
“We just wanted to be able to show a good welcome home to our crews,” Willden said.
Among the firefighters returning Friday were Burchett’s fellow Draper firefighters. They turned on their emergency lights as soon as they saw the Tooele firefighters on the overpass.
It was a brief but meaningful show of support for the firefighters who will now come home to prepare for Burchett’s funeral on Monday.
“When you’re brother is there fighting the fires and something like this happens, it really hits home,” Willden said.
The crews who returned home Friday all went to their respective fire departments to be reunited with their families.