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Two Dead, 11 Injured In Balloon Fire

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Two people died and 11 were injured after a hot air balloon caught fire and crashed in the Vancouver, B.C. suburb of Surrey on Friday evening. Bill Yearwood, of Canada's Transportation Safety Board said a fire started in the balloon's basket shortly after it lifted off on a tethered flight with 12 passengers and a pilot on board. "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," Yearwood told Associated Press. "The balloon was tethered at the time, but then broke and came loose. They were all trying to get out." All but two of the passengers escaped and horrified family members watched from the ground as the balloon pulled the flaming basket about 400 feet high before the basket broke loose and dropped into an RV park, trailing smoke and flame.

Police said the two people in the basket burned to death. The basket ignited motorhomes in the RV park after it crashed. "The basket was basically a fireball. It just dropped like a stone," witness Don Randall told AP. "I'm just thinking, 'Oh geez, I hope there's nobody in that thing. It's basically a burning death up there.'" Unconfirmed reports said the victims were a mother and her grown daughter. The pilot is among the injured and is in stable condition. Injured passengers were taken to Vancouver-area hospitals with burns and injuries related to jumping from the basket.

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