High altitude balloon crashes in Upshur County

Updated: Jan. 6, 2019 at 10:51 AM CST
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UPSHUR COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - A strange sight in the East Texas sky has neighbors coming to investigate, and fire crews responding to something they’ve never experienced.

Around 11 Saturday morning neighbors in the area of Kelsey Creek lane and Lookout lane, west of Gilmer, say they saw a strange silver object plummeting to the ground and then caught fire!

The fire in an open field next to a residence started as a result of what a neighbor said they saw falling from the sky a few minutes earlier.

“We just heard a noise, sounded like a jet so we looked out and it looked like a long silver shaft coming straight down,” said resident Rudy Lee.

“We got a 9-1-1 call on a possible satellite or weather balloon with measurement equipment. It was on fire on our arrival," said Gilmer fire department lieutenant Shelby Henderson.

“Then when we heard it hit, we jumped in the truck and went over there to make sure what it was,” Lee said.

The deflated silver high altitude balloon came down without the parachute deploying.

″The caller was not sure what it was, we went to investigate and found that it was some kind of weather balloon to take measurements." Henderson says.

But as curious neighbors approached the downed aircraft, Lee knew there was a danger.

“With the batteries and the smoke coming out of it, I just backed away. It caught fire. Looked like fireworks," said Lee.

Small explosions were seen shortly after that. Lee believes the onboard batteries began to spark.

“It started burning quickly and hotter, that’s when we put some foam and water on it and extinguished it quickly,” says Henderson.

Custodians of the balloon arrived to collect debris and burned equipment.

No one was injured.

Fire crews say the FAA has been notified of the balloon crash.

The owner of the aircraft was not released.

It’s unknown what brought the balloon down.

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