Hot air balloons land hard, cause injuries in New Mexico

Spectators watch hot air balloons liftoff at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, N.M., Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. (Jerry Larson/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)

ALBUQUERQUE — A hot air balloon’s gondola basket caught fire, utility equipment was damaged and several people needed medical treatment Monday after hard landings at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Two women — the pilot and a passenger — were each thrown from one balloon as it impacted, bounded along the ground and caught fire on the outskirts of Rio Rancho northwest of Albuquerque, said Jimmy DeFillippo, deputy chief for Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue.

He said the pilot and passenger apparently only had minor injuries and were taken to a hospital.

The balloon in that incident also struck a power line during its descent, causing a limited electricity outage and some equipment damage, according to Public Service Company of New Mexico spokeswoman Shannon Jackson.

Fiesta spokesman Tom Garrity confirmed that the landing resulted in a fire and that a public investigation was under way.

At the balloon fiesta launch site in Albuquerque, a balloon passenger with a preexisting medical condition received treatment after a hard landing on the field.

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