LEWISTON — Five people were hurt at the Great Fall Balloon Fest Saturday evening when propane ignited as the hot air balloon pilot was charging a fuel line.

The pilot, Andre Boucher, suffered the worst injuries – second-degree burns to his arms, legs and face, according to Joshua Shea, a spokesman for the festival.

Shea said two of the individuals were crew members and that one of them may have been part of the crew for another balloon. He said no passengers were hurt.

Two people were taken to Central Maine Medical Center, Shea said. Three were treated at the first-aid tent, and two of those then went to Maine Medical Center in Portland, he said.

The incident took place around 7:10 p.m.,  a minute or two before Boucher’s balloon was to take off, Shea said. A “backflash” occurred when a backup of propane came into contact with the burner.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the event as an incident, not as an accident, Shea said.

Boucher’s balloon was the second to last to go up during the evening launch. The one in line to follow Boucher’s balloon did not launch.


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