Smokejumper killed during practice jump at Fort Wainwright

Posted: Monday, May 01, 2000

FAIRBANKS - A smokejumper with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Alaska Fire Service was killed Saturday night when his parachute failed during a training jump.

David J. Liston, 28, died when his chute failed to open while he and other smokejumpers were making practice jumps at Fort Wainwright at about 5 p.m, fire service officials said.

Smokejumpers trained as emergency medical technicians treated Liston immediately after the accident. Liston, who is from Girdwood, was taken to Bassett Army Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after 5:30 p.m.

BLM officials say a team is being assembled to investigate the accident. All parachute operations have been suspended while the investigation is ongoing, said fire service manager Scott Billing.

``Wildland firefighters are a close-knit community, and we are saddened by David's death,'' said Billing.

Smokejumpers are the first firefighters to respond to remote wildfires, flying to the scene and parachuting into the area.

Liston's wife, Kristin, also works with the Alaska Fire Service.

Fire service spokesman Andy Williams said Liston's death was the first fatality involving a smokejumper in Alaska since the 1970s.

Liston came to Alaska from Oregon in 1995 to work for the fire service.

His mother and stepfather live in Gladstone, Ore. His father and stepmother live in Bend, Ore.

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