Skip to comments.Horror in the Sky: Burned Alive in Balloon Tragedy
Posted on 08/26/2007 8:00:13 PM PDT by Calpernia
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (1010 WINS) -- A hot air balloon burst into flames over western Canada, burning a woman and her adult daughter to death while their families looked on, officials said Saturday. Other passengers leaped to the ground, some with their clothes in flames, witnesses said.
Eleven passengers were seriously injured when the balloon crashed Friday evening in a recreational vehicle park near the U.S border in Surrey, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver. There were 12 passengers and a pilot on board, police and witnesses said.
John Kageorge, who works for Fantasy Balloon Charters, said the fire started as the balloon was about to launch. Kageorge said three passengers did not get out of the basket before it became airborne.
``One person jumped from an unsafe distance, two stories in the air or more,'' said Kageorge. The mother and daughter did not jump, he said, although two of their family members made it out of the basket.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Roger Morrow confirmed the deaths and said relatives of the two passengers killed witnessed the fire.
``It's just tragic. They watched it unfold before their eyes,'' Morrow said of the family. ``The fatalities suffered from burns.''
The balloon caught fire as it prepared to launch, said Bill Yearwood, an investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.
``The crew loaded 12 passengers and was preparing to launch when a fire erupted. The pilot asked the passengers to get out of the basket,'' he said. ``The balloon was tethered at the time, but then broke and came loose,'' he added.
``They were all trying to get out.''
After most of the passengers escaped, the balloon exploded in a fireball and shot up into the air. Shortly after, the burning balloon plunged to ground in the RV park, leaving a tail of thick black smoke in its wake.
``I can't tell you what exactly happened when the balloon was loosened from the tether,'' Yearwood said. ``We will be talking to attending crew members and the pilot to find out.''
He said the pilot was in stable condition.
``The thing went up about 400 feet in the air at which point it melted enough of the balloon, it collapsed,'' said Don Randall, a resident of the trailer park who took pictures of the scene. ``The basket was basically a fireball. It just dropped like a stone,'' he added.
``I'm just thinking, 'Oh geez, I hope there's nobody in that thing. It's basically a burning death up there,''' he said.
Smoke could be seen billowing from the crash site from miles away.
Another resident, Karen Ashby, held back tears while she explained how she watched the coroner sift through the blackened wreckage.
``They found the bodies in here,'' Ashby said. ``I watched them take them out.''
The cause of the accident was not immediately known. Weather conditions were clear at the time of the sunset flight.
``People were screaming and trying to get out,'' Frank Hersey said Friday night near a grassy field where several of the injured were being attended to by ambulance crews.
Perry Kendall said he saw what looked like something out of a movie.
``It was horrifying,'' said a shaken Kendall. ``Just looking at people screaming and jumping out of there. Some of them, I think, had fire on their clothes. It was just awful.''
Witnesses also said propane tanks from the balloon shot off and landed on the Hazelmere RV park below, setting fire to three trailers and several vehicles. No one was reported hurt in those blazes.
``We're exceptionally lucky that nobody in any of these three trailers or in the vehicles that were destroyed were caught in them,'' Morrow said.
The hot-air balloon, operated by Fantasy Balloons Charters based in Langley, British Columbia, was one of several balloons in flight at the time. The balloon that burned, Kageorge said, was about nine stories high.
There was a similar accident earlier this month in the central Canadian province of Manitoba, where 12 people were injured.
I've jumped out of planes and have bungee jumped, but riding in a hot air balloon is something I'd never do without a parachute.
I saw a TV news story about this. The reporter said, “Thankfully, the balloon was made of fireproof material and didn’t burn.” I looked at the TV and said “Huh?”
I wouldn’t consider any of the above.
I’m guessing the envelope of the balloon was made of fire resistant material, while the basket was not.
Slight overlook from the engineer I suppose.
Actually, I think his “huh” was about the “thankfully” part, as the balloon not burning didn’t really help anybody.
In fact, if the balloon HAD burned, it may have not jumped into the air, and they may have gotten the rest of the people out.
Anyone see the lawyers descend on the site...........yet?
Probably the air-headed reporter thought hot air balloons will explode into flames like the hydrogen filled Hindenburg unless equipped with magical fabric.
I bet these folks have servants whose function is to tie their shoe-laces, they're so brainless.
Hot air balloon baskets are woven wood fiber
A direct result of having minds so open their brains would surely tumble out should they dare bend over to tie a shoelace.
It’s sad that the two couldn’t make it out like the others.
THese balloons run on a propane fueled furnace jet, and the accidents look like they may have been caused by a gas leak which had ignited in the gas feed hoses, or maybe debris in the furnace itself.
Baloonies trend to be moonbattish also, relishing the ecologically positive aspects of silent flight.Perhaps more focused preflight checks might prevent similar tragedies.
I would never go up in one without a chute. These are big balloons too, if they hold twelve people, who would way close to a ton altogether.
This is the dirty little secret of "hot air balloons". There was another incident in Baton Rouge. The balloon drifted into a high tension electric line, caught fire, and burned, killing two people--my cousin being one of them.
Those things are damned dangerous.
What's left of the balloon envelope, the rest has already burned, is pictured here still attached to the basket as it plummets.
Again, looking at that picture, ordinarily, the whole polymer material of the balloon should have still been ablaze, even worse than the basket is, but, it isn’t. It might have charred, but there’s no flame. Perhaps that was what it could do, at most.