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Firefighters and family members lay fallen Draper Battalion Chief to rest in Provo

Posted at 9:59 PM, Aug 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-20 23:59:33-04

PROVO, Utah -- Community members and firefighters paid tribute to fallen Draper Battalion Chief Matt Burchett Monday, lining the procession route from his funeral the Maverick Center in West Valley, to the Eastlawn Memorial Hills Cemetery in Provo.

At an overpass for I-15 in Pleasant Grove, Lone Peak Fire joined with Pleasant Grove Fire to raise an American Flag, held high by two ladder trucks.

The crews who stood in honor of Burchett had worked with him just weeks before in California before his death.

"He was our strike team leader, so he was over our guys," Pleasant Grove Fire Deputy Chief Andrew Engemann said. "For the two weeks they were out there, they got to know Matt well real well."

He said they wanted to show Burchett's family support and send a message of love as the family drove by in the procession.

"We care about them," he said. "We’re thinking about them."

Further down the route in Orem on Center Street, a few families stood on the sidewalk with flags. Aimee Gertsch staked small flags in the grass along the street in front of her neighborhood.

She said she hoped showing support," helps give them what they need to keep going because we do all appreciate it."

Kristin Black dressed her young son up in patriotic clothing, and her other children held American flags as well as ribbons with red, white and blue star patterns.

"He died in the fire. He's an absolute hero," Black said. "Gets me choked up every time to think of it."

While their one group standing along the procession may be small, Black said it's important to show that support.

"The family hopefully feels supported and loved, and that there's people out there care that will care for them, whether they know who we are or not," Black said.

The families stood with hands over their hearts and tears welling in their eyes as the fire truck carrying the fallen battalion chief and his family passed by.

From there, the procession reached the Eastlawn Memorial Hills in Provo.

Burchett's family, close friends, and firefighter colleagues laid him to rest in an intimate graveside ceremony.

"Crippled by our grief we stand leaning into each other, a circle of heartbreak holding each other up," said Burchett's sister Monica Brinkerhoff, during the graveside service.

An honor guard folded a flag and presented it to Burchett's wife. The crowd stood silently as they watched the helicopter flyover.

"Our hearts have been shattered," Brinkerhoff said. "We look about at the pieces on the floor, wondering what to do next."

As she spoke to the group, she said Burchett's death left a hole in their hearts, but that they will follow in her brother's footsteps.

"We will persist," Brinkerhoff said, adding, "It is what you did. It is what you would want us to do."