Four people died at the scene and a fifth died later in a hospital after a hot air balloon touched powerlines and crashed in Albuquerque early Saturday. Witnesses told local media the balloon brushed the powerlines about 7 a.m., knocking at least one down. An image taken by a bystander showed the envelope collapsed. The gondola separated from the envelope and fell about 100 feet to the median of a street in the city’s west end. It burst into flame after impact and bystanders screamed for fire extinguishers to put the blaze out.
The victims have been identified as two couples, all four of whom worked in a local school district, and the pilot, Nicholas Meleski, an experienced balloonist who also had ties to the same district. The envelope floated away after the accident and fell on a roof in a residential area. The accident downed power lines, cutting service to about 13,000 residents.