One local described hearing people calling for help from the
balloon's basket after officials said it appeared to hit a
powerline in Doswell about 30 miles north of Richmond.
Rescue crews said they were still searching for the pilot, two
passengers and any signs of wreckage.
Witnesses posted photos online showing a balloon in mid air with
its basket engulfed in flames and a trail of smoke spilling into
"They were just screaming for anybody to help them," resident
Carrie Hager-Bradley told a local NBC affiliate.
Another resident, Debra Ferguson, told a local newspaper she
looked up after other balloons had landed safely near her house
and heard cries of 'Oh my god' and then saw a surge of flames.
"As soon as we looked up, the thing blew up right there ... it
was like a match, poof, and then it was gone," Ferguson told the
Free Lance-Star, of Fredericksburg.
The balloon "apparently hit a power line" at 7.30 p.m. local
time (2300 GMT) said Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman
The balloon was taking part in the Mid-Atlantic Balloon Festival
and crashed near a park, organizers said in a statement on their
website, quoting Virginia state police.
"No wreckage has been found yet, and there are no confirmed
injuries or fatalities," the statement added.
A ground search was under way involving state police, the
Federal Aviation Administration, and local law enforcement and
emergency workers, officials said.
"State police report that bad weather elsewhere in the Richmond
vicinity has grounded air search for the time being," organizers
wrote on the website.
The festival was hosting a special "Friday Flights Happy Hour"
for a limited audience from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. local time,
according to organizers.
More than 20 hot air balloon teams from across the United States
were die to take part in the festival at The Meadow Event Park
in Caroline County, organizers said.
A spokesman said the remainder of the events on Saturday and
Sunday have been canceled.
(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.