16 feared dead after hot air balloon catches fire, crashes in Texas

LOCKHART, Texas — Authorities say there appear to be no survivors after a hot air balloon carrying at least 16 people caught on fire and crashed in Central Texas.

The Caldwell County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Saturday that investigators are determining the number of victims and their identities.

Lynn Lunsford with the Federal Aviation Administration said in an earlier statement that the accident happened shortly after 7:40 a.m. Saturday near Lockhart, Texas, when the hot air balloon crashed into a pasture.

Lunsford said there were at least 16 people on board.

Margaret Wiley, who lives about a quarter-mile from the site and has an unobstructed view, told The Associated Press that she was letting her dog out Saturday morning when she heard a "pop, pop, pop."

She said, "I looked around and it was like a fireball going up."

Wiley also said the fireball was located under large power lines. As she described it, the fireball was about four stories high — almost high enough to reach the bottom of the power lines.

Wiley said that she called 911.  She added that the weather seemed clear and that she often sees hot air balloons in the area.

Lunsford said that the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are going to the scene to investigate.

Lockhart is about 30 miles south of Austin.