Man killed during mulch operation in Utah identified; headed charter helicopter company

The man killed during a mulching operation in Utah over the weekend has been identified as the brother-in-law of a state Senator and the owner of Provo-area helicopter company.

Bryan Burr, 58, was killed Saturday October 7 during Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) operations on the Brian Head Fire in southwest Utah. Mr. Burr, from Alpine, Utah, was giving directions to a helicopter dropping straw mulch when he was struck on the head.

Mr. Burr is listed as the president and co-owner of Mountain West Helicopters LLC, according to his Linkedin page. A call to the telephone number listed for the helicopter charter service directed to the voicemail of Mr. Burr.

“Bryan was a good man, a religious person who valued his family very much, and those around him,” wrote Facebook user Thierry Richards, who said in a post he used to work for Mr. Burr. “He treated me kindly and straight forwardly. May he rest in peace.”

The Salt Lake Tribune newspaper reported Mr. Burr was the brother-in-law of Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.

Additional details were not immediately available.

The Brian Head Fire burned over 63,000 acres in late June.  On August 25 BAER teams began dropping 3,200 tons of wheat straw from helicopter nets to cover the soil surface. The additional ground cover increases the germination of seeds dropped earlier and helps absorb raindrop impact lessening water runoff potential.

During runoff mitigation work on Saturday, the pilot saw the injured man and contacted others who called 911. Brian Head Marshall Jeff Morgan was flown to the remote site off State Route 143 about 1:45 p.m. and determined that the man had died.

“It was determined he likely died as a result of blunt force trauma from falling debris during the airdrop,” the Iron County Sheriff’s Office said, though it is unclear whether he was hit by straw mulch or debris from a nearby tree as the straw fell.

Since an aircraft was involved in the fatality the National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the accident.

Map of the Brian Head Fire in southwest Utah. The red line was the perimeter at 2:30 a.m. MDT June 29, 2017. The white line was the perimeter 24 hours earlier.
Map of the Brian Head Fire in southwest Utah. The red line was the perimeter at 2:30 a.m. MDT June 29, 2017. The white line was the perimeter 24 hours earlier.

Utah man killed during helicopter mulch operation at Brian Head Fire

(This article was first published on WildfireToday.com, October 8, 2017.)

A man was killed Saturday October 7 during Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) operations on the Brian Head Fire in southwest Utah. The 58-year old crew member on the ground from Alpine, Utah was giving directions to a helicopter dropping straw mulch when he was struck on the head. The pilot saw the injured man and contacted others who called 911.

Brian Head Marshall Jeff Morgan was flown to the remote site off State Route 143 about 1:45 p.m. and determined that the man had died.

Brian Head Fire map
Map showing planned BAER treatments on the Brian Head Fire.

A statement from the Iron County Sheriff’s Office read:

It was determined he likely died as a result of blunt force trauma from falling debris during the airdrop.

It was not clear from the statement if the man was hit by straw mulch or debris from a nearby tree as the straw fell.

The identity of the person killed has not been released.

Since an aircraft was involved in the fatality the National Transportation Safety Board will be investigating the accident.

Map Brian Head Fire Utah
Map of the Brian Head Fire in southwest Utah. The red line was the perimeter at 2:30 a.m. MDT June 29, 2017. The white line was the perimeter 24 hours earlier.

The Brian Head Fire burned over 63,000 acres in late June.  On August 25 BAER teams began dropping 3,200 tons of wheat straw from helicopter nets to cover the soil surface. The additional ground cover increases the germination of seeds dropped earlier and helps absorb raindrop impact lessening water runoff potential.

BAER treatments Brian Head Fire
File photo of a BAER team member on the Brian Head Fire, July 8, 2017. BAER team photo.

Our sincere condolences go out to the family, friends, and coworkers.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Charlie.
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