Hot Air Balloon crashes into Okanagan Lake

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Fire officials in Kelowna who responded when a hot air balloon crashed into Okanagan Lake on Sunday morning say everyone who was on board is safe and unharmed.

Witness Karen Leith saw the multi-coloured balloon hit the water just before 9 a.m. PT. She said she originally thought it was flying close on purpose.

“Then as it got nearer to our house, the balloon dropped and the basket landed in the lake,” she wrote in an e-mail to CBC News. “The balloon stayed inflated and they were still lighting the fire intermittently. There were two boats near the balloon that seemed to be offering help.

“Suddenly, the balloon lifted up into the air again. We could hear the people on board screaming. The balloon basket was swinging back and forth, and it would deflate slightly on one side as the basket would swing.”

The Kelowna Fire Department dispatched its marine rescue boat, but by the time it arrived the two passengers and pilot had already been pulled to safety by nearby boaters.

“Never seen anything like it or heard anything like this landing in the water,” said platoon captain Steve Roshinsky. “So it’s a first that we’ve responded to in Kelowna like this.”

Firefighters also helped get the basket and balloon back to shore.

Roshinsky says Kelowna RCMP have been notified of the incident, but so far police have not said if there is an investigation into the crash.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada calls the incident a ditching and a, “minor occurrence,” that it won’t be investigating.

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