Hot Air Balloon Catches Fire, Crashes in Virginia

PHOTO: Jim Cox took this photo of a hot air balloon accident in Virginia on Friday, April 9, 2014.

A hot air balloon caught fire Friday evening in mid-flight at Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Virginia, witnesses told the State Police.

The balloon held a pilot and two passengers, State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller told a news conference at the scene. She said authorities had yet to locate the wreckage or the occupants. The Federal Aviation Administration was assisting at the scene.

"This is preliminary information about a hot air balloon that apparently hit a power line and caught fire in Doswell, VA at 7:30 pm today. Three persons were on board. Local authorities are searching for them and the balloon's basket," the FAA said in a statement.

Shortly before 8 p.m., the balloon and gondola caught fire before ascending into the air. According to the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office, passengers were seen jumping from the balloon, ABC affiliate WRIC reported.

The Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival at the Meadow is being held at the park on Saturday and Sunday.

The festival's home page had this event planned for the evening: "Join us on Friday evening for a special limited-ticket happy hour to watch balloon teams take off in flight and return for a beautiful full balloon for this event are advance-sale only and limited to 1,500 people."

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