Hot-air balloon catches fire

Published 4:15pm Saturday, May 10, 2014

DOSWELL, Va. — A hot-air balloon is believed to have caught fire and crashed in Virginia after colliding with a power line, according to state police, who were searching for the wreckage, a pilot and two passengers after eyewitnesses said they saw the balloon in flames and heard screams for help.

Virginia State Police received calls about a balloon crash shortly before 8 p.m. Friday, police spokeswoman Corinne Geller told a news conference, according to several news media reports. She said a pilot and two passengers were believed to be on board, and that police believe it was the balloon’s gondola that caught fire after it apparently struck a power line.

She said police had not yet found any wreckage but planned to search throughout the night, initially by ground and possibly by air if weather allowed. Severe storms were forecast for the area, she said. Geller did not immediately respond to a telephone message left by The Associated Press.

Carrie Hager-Bradley said she saw the balloon in flames on her way home from the grocery store and heard people yelling.

“They were just screaming for anybody to help them,” the station quoted her as saying. “‘Help me, help me, sweet Jesus, help. I’m going to die. Oh my God, I’m going to die,”’ Hager-Bradley said she heard one person screaming.