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3 Missing After Hot Air Balloon Catches Fire

Saturday, May 10, 2014
Authorities are searching for three people who were on board a hot air balloon when it crashed into a power line, setting it ablaze.

The crash happened during the Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival shortly before 8 p.m. Friday at Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Va.

The balloon and two others were about to land when one hit a power line, said Virginia State Police Public Relations Director Corinne Gellar. No wreckage has been found as authorities concentrated their search in nearby Bagdad, Va.

Witnesses told State Police that the pilot tried regaining control of the balloon and that its two passengers jumped out of the gondola, said Gellar. The witnesses recalled hearing an explosion and seeing the gondola separate itself from the balloon.

Megan Pattie and Derick Childers joined friends at a nearby field to watch the festival when they saw the balloon hit the power line.

"It was pretty horrifying," said Pattie.

"We saw two passengers inside it and it kept going and got higher and higher and there was nothing we could do with them," said Childers.

Virginia State Police, Caroline County Sheriff's Office, Caroline County Fire and Rescue and Henrico County Police are involved in the search. The Federal Aviation Administration was assisting and the National Transportation Safety Board has been notified.

The Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival has since been cancelled.

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