Balloon fire in BC, Canada kills mother & daughter

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Balloon fire kills mother, daughter

* Story Highlights

* Balloon had 12 passengers aboard when it ignited

* Three still aboard when balloon began to rise; one jumped

* Bodies of mother and daughter recovered next day

* AP: Falling propane tanks ignited trailers, vehicles

(CNN) -- The bodies of a mother and her daughter were retrieved Saturday after a hot-air balloon fire Friday evening in South Surrey, British Columbia, authorities said.

Stephen Pennock, who owns Fantasy Balloon Charters, said 12 passengers were in the balloon's gondola when the fire began. It was still tethered to the ground at a recreational vehicle park.

The pilot and crew helped all but three passengers out before the tether burned through and the balloon started to rise, said John Kageorge, a crew member who was not at the scene.

"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 RV park, according to The Associated Press.

"The basket was basically a fireball. It just dropped like a stone. I'm just thinking, 'Oh geez, I hope there's nobody in that thing. It's basically a burning death up there,' " Randall told the AP.

One passenger jumped out as the balloon drifted about 100 yards, Kageorge said, and the bodies of the other two were found about midday Saturday, said Yves Portelance, a spokesman for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Witnesses said there was a struggle on board as the flames engulfed the basket of the balloon.

"In my mind, I was thinking somebody's dying right now, right this minute, you know, right near me, which is a rather scary thought," Nigel Vonas told CNN.

"It was horrifying," witness Perry Kendall told the AP. "Just looking at people screaming and jumping out of there. Some of them, I think, had fire on their clothes. It was just awful."

Eleven people were injured, but most were treated at a British Columbia hospital and released, Portelance said. The conditions of the others -- including the passenger who jumped -- were not known.

Kageorge said he didn't know how high the balloon drifted. Video taken by someone nearby seemed to show the balloon above treetops.

"The terrain can be deceiving, depending on your vantage point. It's rolling horse country," he said.

Witnesses told the AP that propane tanks fell from the balloon and set fire to three trailers and an unknown number of vehicles. Those fires caused no injuries, AP reported.

Pennock, who suffered a first-degree burn on his arm, called it a "freak fire." He said it would be investigated.

Fantasy Balloon Charters deeply regrets the injuries and damage that occurred in the accident, Pennock said in a written statement. The company's "immediate concern and efforts is to help everyone affected by the very unusual, tragic event," he said.

SOURCE - CNN.COM

 

Nox

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OMG. That is a terrifying way to go. How horrible.

 

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