An accident at an elementary school in Anaheim on Wednesday afternoon left one man injured and an entire neighborhood without power after a hot-air balloon fell over, according to authorities.
Crews responded to reports of a power-outage in the 700 block of North Magnolia Street, close to the intersection with Crescent Avenue, at about 3:30 p.m. Upon arrival, they found that a hot-air balloon had toppled over on top of some power lines outside of a school and knocked a streetlamp to the ground. It finally landed in an alleyway behind some houses, according to Anaheim Fire Marshal Jeff Lutz.
Fire officials then received calls that urgent medical care was required in the area at Peter Marshall Elementary School.
When emergency responders arrived at the school, authorities said that two men were inflating the hot-air balloon as part of a demonstration for the school science fair and a fundraiser.
The balloon was estimated to be about 20 feet high, according to fire officials and school authorities.
Lutz said that the accident happened while the men were filling the balloon with air. Apparently, they lost control of the balloon and a strong gust of wind started pulling the balloon into the sky. One of the men was pulled about 8 feet in the air above the school before he dropped to the ground and was injured. The balloon flew away into the nearby residences.
The volunteer, identified only as a 26-year-old man, suffered from minor rope burns and a sprained ankle, according to Lutz, and was transported to a local hospital for treatment.
Eventually, power utility crews from Anaheim removed the balloon from the power lines. They are still working on replacing the broken streetlamp.
The hot-air balloon is the oldest successful flight technology that can carry passengers. The first hot-air balloon flight occurred in Paris, France in November 21, 1783 and lasted a few hours. Hot-air balloons are entirely dependent on the wind and the heat from the flames to propel them forward. Ships that use propellers are known as thermal airships.
Basically, a hot-air balloon consists of a bag that is suspended over a basket. The bag must be capable of enclosing hot air and the basket is usually large enough to carry several people. In between these two components is a jet of open flame that heats the air inside the balloon. The balloon works on the principle that the heated air has a lower density than the colder air around it, making it buoyant.
In the early days of balloon travel, the bag was generally made from fabric, but today it is generally made from fire-resistant material, because of several accidents where the burner flame lit the balloon on fire.
The deadliest hot-air balloon accident occurred in Australia in 1989, when two balloons crashed into each other while in mid-air and 13 people died. The second-deadliest accident occurred very recently in January of 2012, when a hot-air balloon became tangled in some power lines in New Zealand and killed all 11 people aboard the ship.
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