Columbia County Fire and Rescue workers Levi Register (from left)...

Columbia County Fire and Rescue workers Levi Register (from left) Shawn Henderson and Matt Garbett watch as balloons are released into the air during a memorial service for state Division of Forestry firefighters Brett Fulton and Josh Burch in Lake City, Fla., Wednesday. Burch and Fulton were killed while fighting the Blue Ribbon Fire in Hamilton County on the Georgia line on Monday, June 20. (June 23, 2011) Credit: AP

Firefighters across the state were among the 1,000 mourners attending the funerals of two Florida forest rangers who died fighting the Blue Ribbon fire along the Georgia line.

Fifty-two year-old Brett Fulton and 31-year-old Josh Burch were plowing with bulldozers in Hamilton County when a small, smoldering wildfire flared up and trapped them Monday. Two comrades trying to rescue them also were injured.

Two Florida Division of Forestry helicopters flew overhead during the services held Friday and Saturday in Lake City. It's the first time since 2000 that a forestry division employee has died fighting a wildfire.

Many public service workers had black ribbons pinned to their shirts or black cloth covering their badges. American flags decorated both funerals, some hanging off fire truck ladders parked outside the churches. Flags at the Florida Capitol and in Hamilton County were flown at half-mast Friday and Saturday to honor the men.

Both of the deceased rangers were married. Fulton had two grown children and Burch had two sons, ages 4 and 5. Burch had been with the department's Division of Forestry for 10 years and Fulton for 12 years.

At Fulton's funeral Saturday, friend remembered a hero.

"Brett will be sorely missed and his mark will be left on the world for a long time," Fulton's partner, Andy Ross said. "We are all better people for knowing you, Brett. Godspeed, 680 (Fulton's number)."

Citrus County Fire Rescue Department Lt. Bob Bessler was one of five crew members from there to attending Burch's funeral Friday.

"We lost part of our family and we felt anything we could do like bringing our massive flag up here with our guard was tribute to these two firefighters. It was an honor for us to be here."

Memorial funds have been set up for each family. Contributions to either can be made through SunState Federal Credit Union in Gainesville or FLAG Credit Union in Tallahassee.

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