Sunday, August 26, 2007

Canadian accident

Another sad accident in Canada, I will not add any more to the newspaper reports that are below, follow the links to see pictures. It started hitting the news late last night here in the UK.
The BBC were showing footage of the aftermath.
As ever it goes without saying, be careful out there.

Flames consume motor homes at the Hazelmere RV trailer park after a hot air balloon whose basket was engulfed in flames crashed into it shortly after takeoff in Surrey British Colombia Canada Friday evening. (AP photo/Don Randall SURREY, B.C. — As a hot-air balloon burst into flames and plummeted into an RV park, killing two people, a horrific scene of chaos and a raging inferno ensued, witnesses said. “I saw the balloon coming down on the front of the trailer and when it hit, it exploded,” said Karen Ashby.
“There were flames and fire, people running. Everybody was in a panic. It was a shock. It was like a war zone here.”
Family members of the two victims were among those who stood powerless on the ground Friday evening, watching as the flaming balloon crashed directly into a trailer.
Sgt. Roger Morrow of Surrey RCMP said the victims will not be identified until at least early next week to give the family a chance to recover from the shock of what they witnessed.
Eleven people were taken by ground and air ambulances to hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
Three trailers were destroyed, but luckily about seven people in the trailers got out safely, said Ralph Zandergen, the owner of Hazelmere Trailer Park.
There is little left of the three trailers now, said Zandergen, and the one in the middle that was directly hit is just a pile of ashes and a few propane tanks.
Mike Braden, 48, a resident of the RV park, said he looked out his window to see the balloon and its basket in flames.
“The basket broke and it dropped on the trailer and beside the truck,” he said.
“It was totally engulfed in flames. (After it crashed), tires were blowing and a few propane tanks went off and it was just an inferno.”
One day later the smell of burnt plastic and smoke still permeates the area and puddles of plastic dot the ground.
Ashby, 50, held back tears while she explained how she watched the coroner sift through the blackened wreckage.
“They found the bodies in here,” she said. “I watched them take them out.”
Though the scene of destruction has Ashby shaken up, she defended the actions of the balloon pilot.
She said both her children and her husband have been up in a balloon with the same pilot.
She said he was very responsible and that “you couldn’t ask for a better person that flies that balloon.”
“That was a pure accident. Something malfunctioned. Something went wrong. That man would have never done anything if he would have thought there would be any harm to anybody.”
The Transportation Safety Board is investigating. Police say it’s premature to speculate on a cause.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - A hot air balloon burst into flames over western Canada, burning two passengers to death while their families looked on, police said Saturday. Other passengers leaped to the ground, some with their clothes in flames, witnesses said.Eleven people were seriously injured when the balloon crashed Friday evening in a recreational vehicle park in Surrey, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver. There were 12 passengers and a pilot on board, police and witnesses said.Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Roger Morrow said relatives of the two passengers killed witnessed the fire. He declined to comment on reports that the dead were a mother and her grown daughter.«It's just tragic. They watched it unfold before their eyes,» Morrow said of the families. «The fatalities suffered from burns.The balloon caught fire as it prepared to launch, said Bill Yearwood, an investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.«The crew loaded 12 passengers and was preparing to launch when a fire erupted. The pilot asked the passengers to get out of the basket,» he said. «The balloon was tethered at the time, but then broke and came loose,» he added.«They were all trying to get out.After most of the passengers escaped, the balloon exploded in a fireball and shot up into the air. Shortly after, the burning balloon plunged to ground in the RV park, leaving a tail of thick black smoke in its wake.«I can't tell you what exactly happened when the balloon was loosened from the tether,» Yearwood said. «We will be talking to attending crew members and the pilot to find out.He said the pilot was in stable condition.«The thing went up about 400 feet (122 meters) in the air at which point it melted enough of the balloon _ it collapsed,» said Don Randall, a resident of the trailer park who took pictures of the scene. «The basket was basically a fireball. It just dropped like a stone,» he added.«I'm just thinking, 'Oh geez, I hope there's nobody in that thing. It's basically a burning death up there,»' he said.Smoke could be seen billowing from the crash site from miles (kilometers) away.Another resident, Karen Ashby, held back tears while she explained how she watched the coroner sift through the blackened wreckage.«They found the bodies in here,» Ashby said. «I watched them take them out.The cause of the accident was not immediately known. Weather conditions were clear at the time of the sunset flight.«People were screaming and trying to get out,» Frank Hersey said Friday night near a grassy field where several of the injured were being attended to by ambulance crews.
Perry Kendall said he saw what looked like something out of a movie.«It was horrifying,» said a shaken Kendall. «Just looking at people screaming and jumping out of there. Some of them, I think, had fire on their clothes. It was just awful.Witnesses also said propane tanks from the balloon shot off and landed on the Hazelmere RV park below, setting fire to three trailers and several vehicles. No one was reported hurt in those blazes.«We're exceptionally lucky that nobody in any of these three trailers or in the vehicles that were destroyed were caught in them,» Morrow said.The hot-air balloon, which CTV reported was operated by Fantasy Balloons Charters based in Langley, British Columbia, was one of several balloons in flight at the time.«The company deeply regrets this evening's incident and all injuries associated with it (and) inconvenience to those people being displaced,» said John K. George, a company spokesman.There was a similar accident earlier this month in the central Canadian province of Manitoba, Manitoba, where 12 people were injured.Associated Press writers Rob Gillies and Charmaine Noronha in Toronto contributed to this report.

No comments: