Hot Air Balloon Catches Fire Over Texas–16 Killed in Crash

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Sixteen people were killed early Saturday morning when the hot air balloon they were flying in caught fire and crashed into electrical wires in Central Texas.

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Caldwell County Sheriff Daniel Law released a statement that detailed the 911 call from before 8:00 a.m. local time about a “possible vehicle accident” outside of Lockhart, Texas.

When the first responders arrived on the scene, though, it was apparent that this wasn’t your typical car crash.

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“The balloon was occupied and it does not appear at this time that there were any survivors of the crash,” Sheriff Law said. “Investigators are determining the number and the identities of victims at this time.”

Most hot air balloons have small baskets and carry 3-4 people with little difficulty. This one was carrying 16. Details are still coming in, but it is clear that this was a larger balloon.

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Lynn Lunsford with the Federal Aviation Administration said the balloon caught fire and crashed in a remote pasture. From the videos being posted, it appears that the basket became tangled in power lines, too. There’s no indication of which came first.

The heat that makes hot air balloons rise is typically generated by burning gasses. The tanks that store the gas are kept in the basket with the passengers. Balloons are reliably controlled in ascent and descent, though winds can blow them in any direction. That’s why most flights happen in the early morning hours, when the winds are most calm.

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The tanks could have been ignited int he basket, before the crash, or the fire could have occurred when the basket struck the electrical wires.

Texas Governor Greg Abbot called the crash a “heartbreaking tragedy.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, as well as the Lockhart community,” he said.