Hot air balloon hits power lines in Outagamie County

OUTAGAMIE COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) -- A tense situation in Outagamie County after a hot air balloon ends up tangled in power lines. It happened on Sunday in the Town of Center. Two people were flying in the balloon when it it didn't land properly and became tangled in the power lines along Meade Street between Wege and Rock roads.

Brian Chynoweth was driving in the Town of Center when he stopped his car to watch a few hot air balloons fly by on Sunday morning.

According to Chnyoweth, "That was not uncommon to see them flying across northern Appleton with all of the big fields out there."

What happened to one of them, as it tried to land of meade street, led to an emergency response.

"They came down gradually, hit the ground, and as I said they had slight momentum which just carried them towards power lines," says Chnyoweth.

The balloon, with two people inside, became tangled in the live power lines.

Chief Joe Hofacker from the Town of Center Fire Department responded to the scene. He said, "You're dealing with propane and electricity and they don't work together."

The two people in the balloon's basket were told to stay put, unsure of the amount of electricity flowing through the lines and therefore the balloon, too. The Town of Center Fire Department down the road and authorities waited for WE Energies to arrive.

"Propane wasn't shut off until the electricity was shut off and then when the electricity got shut off the propane was shut off," said Chief Hofacker.

The two people in the basket were then able to evacuate safely, while two we energies bucket trucks worked to clear the tangled balloon.

Hofacker adds, "I said, get some pictures because maybe we'll never see another one like this, hopefully we don't but at least it turned out, everything worked out well and nobody died so it's a happy ending."

The pilot of the balloon declined our request for comment. The Outagamie County Sheriff's Office tells us the man is a little embarrassed and he wanted to speak to the FAA before addressing the incident publicly.

Photo: Town of Center Fire Dept.

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