Several people assist a victim of a hot air balloon crash between Bridge Street and the railroad tracks in downtown Burlington Wednesday evening. (Photo by Brian Biedrzycki)

Balloon may have hit building, train

Three people were injured Wednesday evening when the hot air balloon they were in lost altitude and appeared to strike a building and a passing train in the 400 block of South Pine Street, according to a witness.

A rapidly deflating hot air balloon shoots skyward after separating from its gondola Wednesday evening in Burlington. (Photo by Brian Biedrzycki)

At least one of the victims suffered serious injury and was transported from the scene to a hospital by Flight for Life helicopter.

Brian Biedrzycki, a Burlington resident and former Rescue Squad member, was driving south on Pine Street when he noticed the low-flying balloon about 8 p.m. Wednesday.

“It was so low I thought that maybe it was trying to land,” Biedrzycki said. “But then it looked like it caught the building and ripped open.”

He said the rapidly deflating balloon shot back into the air and he noticed the gondola was no longer attached.

Biedrzycki said he didn’t see the whether gondola hit the train because he was on the opposite side of the building, however, other witnesses told him the gondola hit the train and the victims landed on the east side of the railroad tracks.

Biedrzycki drove around the back of the building that houses Love Inc. to provide help for the victims. However, he had to wait for the train to come to a stop before climbing under a train car to reach the victims on the opposite side.

He said his training as a rescue squad member helped him remain calm during the incident.

“The old instincts kicked in,” he said.

For additional reporting on this story see the June 2 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.