Hot air balloons land hard, cause injuries in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — 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 Co. 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 pre-existing medical condition received treatment after a hard landing on the field.

In Albuquerque’s North Valley, another balloon landed with its fabric draped over a utility line without injuries or damage, Garrity said.

The annual balloon fiesta draws pilots from around the world and from more than 40 U.S. states.