Idaho Smokejumper Killed When Parachute Fails During Training

Monday, 30 Sep 2013 08:58 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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An Idaho smokejumper died during a training exercise near Boise Friday when his parachute reportedly malfunctioned.

Mark T. Urban, 40, had been a member of the Great Basin Smokejumper Base for 11 years, and was "very experienced, a leader in the program and one of the program's main trainers," Ken Frederick of the National Interagency Fire Center told CNN.

Urban reportedly got into an accident during a proficiency training jump about 45 miles east of Boise Friday and was pronounced dead by paramedics who arrived on the scene via helicopter.

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His death marks the first smokejumper casualty since 2000, according to CNN.

Smokejumpers are firefighters who parachute into remote areas to fight wildfires. They are required to make a jump once every two weeks during fire season.

"Using high-performance aircraft and parachutes, the jumpers' primary mission is to be first on the scene when fires occur in remote areas," a description on the Bureau of Land Management's website reads. "The Boise Smokejumpers can operate out of Boise or virtually any airport with adequate runway length and fueling capabilities, providing a long-range, large-payload, rapid response to an emerging or ongoing fire."

Urban was one of about 75 smokejumpers at Boise's Great Basin Smokejumper Base, which is one of two smokejumper bases operated by the Bureau of Land Management. The other is in Fairbanks, Alaska. There are about 150 BLM smokejumpers in all. The U.S. Forest Service also has smokejumpers, about 300 at seven bases, according to The Associated Press.

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