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Idaho smokejumper dies in parachuting accident

By Leslie Holland and Janet DiGiacomo, CNN
September 29, 2013 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 40-year-old Mark Urban died in an accident in Idaho, officials say
  • Urban was with the Great Basin Smokejumper program for 11 years.
  • Urban was a "very experienced" smokejumper, according to BLM spokesperson.
  • It's believed Urban's parachute malfunctioned, officials say

(CNN) -- A smokejumper in Idaho died in a parachuting accident Friday, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Mark T. Urban of Boise was with the Great Basin Smokejumper Base and was doing a training jump about 45 miles east of Boise, the bureau said in a statement.

Urban, 40, had been with the air-deployed firefighting program for 11 years.

It's believed Urban's parachute malfunctioned, according to Ken Frederick with the National Interagency Fire Center.

Frederick said Urban was "very experienced, a leader in the program and one of the program's main trainers." Urban also put together the training program for rookies.

An investigation into the accident is expected to begin on Sunday.

Urban's death is the first smokejumper death since 2000, Frederick said.

According to the Bureau of Land Management's website, smokejumpers are deployed to help with fire suppression in rural areas.

"Using high-performance aircraft and parachutes, the jumpers' primary mission is to be first on the scene when fires occur in remote areas. 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."

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