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Power line safety reviewed with first responders, Balloon Fiesta safety officials

Colton Shone
October 04, 2017 05:23 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – With the International Balloon Fiesta only a few days away, first responders are getting a refresher on how to take action when a hot air balloon comes crashing into a power line.

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Last year, two hot air balloons hit powerlines during the Balloon Fiesta. The Outlander Alien balloon hit power lines near Paseo Del Norte and Jefferson Street, creating flames on impact and knocking out power to about 1,200 customers. A second balloon also hit power lines that same day on Montano Road near Interstate 25.

Balloon pilot Ray Bair says these situations can be deadly.

"Probably the most dangerous situation is when the suspension cables between the envelope and the basket strike the powerlines. Because you have the danger then of those wires being severed and the whole basket drops away from the envelope," he said.

That's why PNM held a mock demonstration and gave tips on how to respond for rescue crews who get to the scene.

"The best thing they can do is secure the scene, keep everybody calm, the spectator and other balloonists. It's an intense situation," said PNM's Art Anaya.

It's advised that first responders not try to rescue anyone until they get word from a PNM  official that the line is de-energized.

But what if you're in the basket? Bair says follow the pilot's directions.

"In general, the first concern is the electricity, so we try to get everybody to move to the center of the basket and stay away from the wire cables," he said.

PNM says there will be crews scattered throughout the area while the balloons are in the air. Crews will stay deployed until all the balloons come down so that they can respond to any situation very quickly.

Credits

Colton Shone

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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