Fire crews free trapped balloonists


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The Independent Online

Three people were brought to safety by fire service rope rescue crews after a hot air balloon crashed into power lines, leaving its basket suspended 45ft above the ground.

Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service said the balloonists involved in the incident had been transferred to the care of the ambulance service following the rescue operation close to Bozeat, near Wellingborough, although they are not thought to have suffered serious injuries.

A brigade spokesman said specialist working-at-height teams had been deployed to the incident, which was reported to the emergency services at 6.10pm yesterday.

Rescue teams were sent to the scene immediately, but had to wait for several hours for confirmation that the power lines were no longer live before helping those stranded in the basket.

Balloon pilot Adam Griffiths told BBC Look East last night: "We hit the power lines, which went with quite a bang.

"There was a little bit of a fire but it seemed to put itself out.

"The other two passengers were knelt down in the basket so they were fine.

"We caught on the power lines and slid down them a little.

"It was four or five hours until we got rescued."

UK Power Networks said just two customers, who take electricity directly from the high-voltage network, lost power due to the incident.

A spokesman for the firm said: "We had engineers on site, working in conjunction with the neighbouring electricity distribution company, shortly after the collision.

"We also worked with the emergency services to ensure the lines were safe before the occupants of the basket could be brought down."