Saturday, July 30, 2016

16 Dead after hot air balloon catches fire, crashes

16 Dead after hot air balloon catches fire, crashes

All 16 people were confirmed dead after a hot air balloon caught fire in flight and crashed into a pasture near Lockhart, Texas, according to local authorities Saturday.

The accident occurred around 7:45 a.m. near Jolly Road north of Cistern Road, which is in the Maxwell area, Caldwell County sheriff's officials said in a statement.

Sheriff Daniel Law said they responded to a 911 call about a possible vehicle crash. When emergency responders and sheriff's officials arrived, it was apparent the reported fire was the basket portion of the hot air balloon, according to the statement.

According to FAA officials, the hot air balloon, which was owned by balloon company Heart of Texas, crashed after striking a high-voltage power line in the area and catching fire.

Local officials confirmed 16 people were dead at the scene.

The land near the crash site is mostly farmland, with corn crops and grazing cattle. Cutting through that farmland is a row of massive high-capacity transmission lines about 4 to 5 stories tall. The site of the crash appeared to be right below the overhead lines.

A portion of surrounding streets were closed as officials conducted a preliminary investigation and investigators worked to determine the identities of all the victims.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott asked in a statement that "all of Texas to join us in praying for those lost."

Lockhart is about 30 miles south of Austin.

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