The Latest: Woman near Texas balloon crash saw fireball


LOCKHART, Texas (AP) — The Latest on the hot air balloon that crashed in Central Texas (all times local):

1:40 p.m.

A woman who lives near the site where a hot air balloon crashed in Central Texas says she saw a giant fireball.

Margaret Wylie, who lives about a quarter-mile from the site and has an unobstructed view, told The Associated Press that she was letting her dog out Saturday morning when she heard a “pop, pop, pop.”

She said, “I looked around and it was like a fireball going up.”

Wylie also said the fireball was located under large power lines. As she described it, the fireball was about four stories high — almost high enough to reach the bottom of the power lines.

Authorities say there are likely no survivors after the hot air balloon carrying at least 16 people caught fire and crashed. Wylie says she did not hear anyone scream or call out.

Wylie said that she called 911. She added that the weather seemed clear and that she often sees hot air balloons in the area.

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This item has been corrected to show witness’ last name is Wylie, not Wiley.

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1:10 p.m.

Officials say a “significant investigation” will be done at the site of the Texas hot air balloon crash, which caused a “significant loss of life.”

Erik Grosof with the National Transportation Safety Board said at a news conference Saturday that there are a “number of fatalities” but would not provide an exact number.

He also said the federal agency has deemed it a major accident and a full-bore investigation will begin Sunday when more federal officials arrive.

The crash happened at about 7:40 a.m. Saturday. Lynn Lunsford with the Federal Aviation Administration said earlier that the balloon was carrying at least 16 people.

Authorities have not said where the balloon was based out of, though Caldwell County Sheriff Daniel C. Law told The Associated Press that it’s the kind of situation where people can walk up and buy a ticket, unlike an airplane, which would have a list of names.

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12:10 p.m.

The site of a hot air balloon crash in Central Texas appears to be directly under large power lines.

Authorities have said there are likely no survivors after a hot air balloon carrying at least 16 people caught fire and crashed near Lockhart on Saturday morning.

The land near the crash site is mostly farmland, with corn crops and grazing cattle.

Cutting through that farmland is a row of massive, high-capacity transmission lines, and the site of the crash appears to be right below the overhead lines.

Authorities are investigating the crash, and have not yet provided further details. A large number of law enforcement personnel is at the scene.

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12 p.m.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says in a statement that he and the first lady are extending their condolences following a hot air balloon crash in which authorities say there are likely no survivors.

Abbott said in a statement Saturday that he and his wife, Cecilia Abbott, “extend our deepest condolences” for those affected” by the “heartbreaking tragedy.”

Authorities have said there are likely no survivors after a hot air balloon carrying at least 16 people caught fire and crashed near Lockhart on Saturday morning.

Abbott says he and his wife’s thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, as well as the Lockhart community. He says, “The investigation into the cause of this tragic accident will continue, and I ask all of Texas to join us in praying for those lost.”

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11:05 a.m.

Authorities say it is likely there are no survivors after a hot air balloon carrying at least 16 people caught on fire and crashed in Central Texas.

The Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Saturday that investigators are determining the number of victims and their identities.

Lynn Lunsford with the Federal Aviation Administration said in an earlier statement that the accident happened shortly after 7:40 a.m. Saturday near Lockhart, Texas, when the hot air balloon crashed into a pasture. Lunsford said there were at least 16 people on board.

Lunsford said that the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are going to the scene to investigate.

Lockhart is about 30 miles south of Austin.

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