Final Salute to Fallen Forest Ranger
They were the first firefighters in the state in 26 years to be overcome while battling a wildfire. On the inside of the funeral ceremony for one of the men, there were tears. On the outside there were solemn salutes.
"A firefighter is a firefighter no matter where he's working," said Gary Poitras, one of the 40 "Patriot Guard Riders" who stood tall for 31-year-old Josh Burch.
Burch was one of two forest rangers killed while fighting a 12-acre blaze on the Georgia line. His death comes during one of the busiest wildfire years in recent history. Since May, wildfires have burned nearly 200,000 acres across the state.
"There is no real long term relief in sight from this fire season, they've been at it now for over two months in 100 degree air temperature before they go into the fire," said Adam Putnam, Agriculture Commissioner.
The hearse bringing Burch to his final resting place, was followed by a long line.
"The different agencies that are here, they all work together with us on the fires...so it's just difficult it's hard," said Ludie Bond, Florida Division of Forestry spokesperson.
Burch was remembered as a husband, father, leader, and a hero.
"He leaves a rich legacy in this calling that is firefighting that all these other men and women in uniform will continue to affirm with their work everyday," said Putnam.
"It's a brotherhood, it really is the fire department... and you lose one, everybody loses something," said Poitras.
Funeral arrangements for 52-year-old Brett Fulton are scheduled for 10-am Saturday, at Christ Central Ministries Church in Lake City.
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