Sunday, August 26, 2007
Surrey, British Columbia - A hot air balloon caught fire and crashed in mobile-home park and campground on Friday evening, injuring as many as 11 people, police and a witness said. Two other people were unaccounted for.
The cause of the accident was not known. Weather conditions were clear at the time of the sunset flight. At least three 30-foot (9-metre) mobile homes caught fire, said Don Randall, a witness who lives in the RV park. No one was reported hurt in those blazes.
Witnesses said passengers screamed and jumped to the ground as the balloon's basket caught fire. The balloon reportedly took off from a grassy field with 12 passengers.
The balloon went up about 400 feet (122 meters) in the air, "at which point it melted enough of the balloon - it collapsed," said Randall, who took pictures of the fiery scene. "The basket was basically a fireball, it just dropped like a stone."
People who had been riding in the balloon suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries and were taken to hospitals in the nearby Vancouver area, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Roger Morrow said in a statement.
Fifteen ambulances, two air ambulances and eight fire trucks raced to the scene at the Hazelmere park, he said. Smoke could be seen billowing from the crash site from miles away, CTV said.
Randall said at least two vehicles were damaged along with the mobile homes.
The hot-air balloon, which CTV reported was operated by Fantasy Balloons Charters based in Langley, British Columbia, was one of several balloons in flight at the time. - Sapa-AP
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