No injuries when hot air balloon hits power line

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A hot air balloon hit a power line Friday morning after the pilot lost control of the balloon. No one was injured.

Pilot Ian Cox, owner of Wild West Balloon Adventures, said he underestimated the strength of the wind during a routine balloon ride Friday morning and clipped a power line while attempting to land.

The accident happened at about 8:45 a.m., when the balloonist was trying to land near the James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge. It ultimately landed in the area behind Windemere Landscape and Garden Center, Steamboat Springs police Capt. Joel Rae said.

No one was hurt in the accident, and the balloon was not damaged, he said.

Yampa Valley Electric Association was notified about the accident and arrived on the scene within 10 minutes to fix the live power line, which snapped when the balloon hit it, Rae said.

The police department notified the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Bureau about the accident, Rae said.

Cox said the wind was a little stronger than he had anticipated and that as the balloon climbed over the power line to land, the basket hit the wire.

Cox said there were about nine people in the basket.

After the wire snapped, Cox said he continued to fly the balloon to the next landing site.

"Everyone clapped when we landed," he said.

Cox will be responsible for the cost of fixing the power line. Cox has been a pilot for 23 years, and this is the first time he has had this kind of accident, he said.

"I don't want to downplay it, but it isn't much worse then hitting a power line with your car," he said.

The police department called the FAA and the NTSB, though Cox said they only need to be notified if people are injured in the accident or if there was a malfunction with the equipment. Because neither condition applied to this accident, Cox was not legally required to notify them.

Cox is not facing charges in the accident.

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