NEW: Heart of Texas Hot Air Balloon Rides operated the balloon, a source says
Two sources tell CNN the balloon may have collided with power lines
The Caldwell County Sheriff's Office says there were no survivors
A hot air balloon believed to be carrying 16 people caught fire in the air and crashed in central Texas on Saturday morning, killing everybody on board, federal and local authorities said.
The balloon may have struck power lines when it went down around 7:30 a.m. in pastureland near Lockhart, about 30 miles south of Austin, in an area often used for balloon landings, a county judge and public safety source told CNN.
“First I heard a whoosh,” Margaret Wylie, who lives near the crash site, told CNN affiliate TWC. “And then a big ball of fire (went) up. I’d say it got as high up as those lower electric lines.”
If investigators confirm 16 people died, the crash will be the most fatal hot air balloon accident in United States history.
Federal Aviation Authority officials said the balloon carrying 16 people caught fire before crashing, but provided few other details. The Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office said nobody on board survived.
Caldwell County Judge Ken Schawe said it looks like the balloon collided with a power line before catching fire and crashing to the ground.
A source with the Texas Department of Public Safety earlier told CNN’s Polo Sandoval that investigators believe the hot air balloon struck power lines and caught fire. This is the preliminary working theory, the source said.