Freak Accident At Virginia Balloon Show Leaves Three Unaccounted

A hot-air balloon caught fire and crashed Friday at the Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival in Virginia, promoting a search of the wreckage and the three people aboard, CBS News reports.

Kathleen Bergen, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said the incident took place at the inaugural balloon festival in Doswell, 25 miles north of Richmond.

Prior to the incident, the balloon, along with two others had taken off with two balloons landing safely, said Corinne Geller, spokeswoman for the state police. But when the third balloon was on approach to land, it burst into flames.

Witnesses reported to CNN that the balloon struck a power line and then caught fire. Some even reported that they remembered hearing an explosion when the gondola separated from the balloon, sending the balloon soaring into the air.

Images captured by spectators showed one balloon well above the ground, with its basket in flames.

Hours after the crash authorities still had not located the balloon, nor were they aware of the condition of the pilot and the two passengers believed aboard, according to Geller.

"We've been actively searching," she said. "At this point, we have found no wreckage." Rescuers are searching two sites.

The event was an inaugural one for Richmond. The first night kicked off with live music, food and drinks. Hot air balloon teams from all over the United States were expected to participate. On its website, the event's organizers invited 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.

[Photo Credit: Bing]