- The balloon apparently hit a power line, an FAA spokeswoman says
- The Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival is called off due to the incident
- Images show the balloon well above the ground with its basket on fire
- Authorities haven't yet found the balloon or the 3 thought to be on board
A hot air balloon burst into flames and crashed Friday night in Virginia after apparently hitting a power line, prompting a search for the wreckage and the three people believed to have been on board, authorities said.
The incident happened over Doswell, 25 miles north of Richmond, around 7:30 p.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said. Preliminary information indicates the balloon apparently struck a power line and then caught fire, according to Bergen.
Witnesses reported the balloon ablaze and crashing somewhere northeast of Meadow Event Park, according to Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller. Images from the scene show one balloon well above the ground, with its basket in flames.
About two hours later, authorities still didn't know exactly where the balloon ended up. Nor did they know the condition of the one pilot and two passengers thought to be on board, according to Geller.
"We've been actively searching," the state police spokeswoman said. "At this point, we have found no wreckage."
There was no rain at the time, Geller said, though severe storms rolling through could complicate the search.
The incident came one day before the scheduled start of the inaugural Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival, which is set to run through the weekend. On its website, the event's organizers invite people to "get up close and personal with 20 hot air balloon teams from across the country."
The event has been canceled in light of Friday's incident, according to a post on the festival's Facebook page.