Hot air balloon sightseers turn into heroes

What started as a relaxing hot air balloon ride for a pilot and his passengers quickly became an adventure as they spotted plumes of smoke billowing up from the ground.

Kevin Jones and his wife Denise were among the 16 travellers on the sightseeing journey, which was a gift from their children following Denise’s 50th birthday. Hot air balloon trips are a popular way to take in the sights from the sky, and it started out like any other flight. However, as they were passing over a remote farm property in Hele, Devon, some of the passengers noticed what looked like flames coming from the building.

With the occupants of the hot air balloon based in an open basket 2000 feet in the air, it was reported that the smoke from the blaze could literally be smelt as it rose up to greet them. The balloon’s pilot, Arthur Street, said that the sense of smell and hearing is heightened in such a device, when compared to an airplane.

The investigation from the hot air balloon began, and the pilot asked the passengers to clarify the sighting through their binoculars. It became apparent that the flames and smoke were too big to be simply chimney smoke or even a bonfire, and the pilot called the details through to nearby Exeter airport, which contacted the fire brigade.

Fire crews were despatched and the blaze was quickly brought under control, with Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service confirming that whilst a single story building was destroyed, the fire was quickly contained and nobody was hurt.

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