Hot air balloon hits power line crashes, 2 burned
NATIONAL NEWS — A wayward hot air balloon hit power lines Wednesday morning during an event in New Mexico, severely burning the two men in it and causing the balloon to plummet some 40 feet to the ground.
The accident occurred during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, a celebration dubbed by organizers as the "World's Largest Ballooning Event."
The two men, identified as 59-year-old Mark Kilgore and 66-year-old Daniel Lovato, were rushed to the University of New Mexico Hospital to be treated for burns, event organizers said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot, his passenger, their chase crew and families," said Tom Garrity, a spokesman for the balloon event. "We will address aspects of this accident with our pilots at our next pilot briefing in hopes that the sequence of events will not repeat themselves."
The event goes from October 5 to October 13 and features more than 500 hot air balloons and competitive flights where pilots compete for cash.
Wednesday, according to organizers, was a day that participants took a break from competition to be part of something called the "Flight of the Nations," an aerial parade of sorts were participants fly their nation's flag from their balloon.
Neighbors said the crash of the balloon was dramatic and scary.
"There was an explosion," Larry Willock, a witness, told CNN affiliate KRQE. "It shot flames out 20 feet to the side. At that point the gondola really started to drop."
This is not the first incident during this year's balloon fiesta, according to the affiliate. On Saturday, a balloon hit a power pole. On Sunday, a balloon hit power lines, KRQE reported. But in those cases, both balloons were able to make safe landings.
CNN's Dave Alsup contributed to this report.