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2 Injured In New Mexico Hot Air Balloon Accident

Two people sustained minor injuries on Monday after a hot air balloon struck a power line, igniting a fire when the gondola made a hard landing on the outskirts of Rio Rancho, N.M.

Local reports say it was a day of hard landings for other balloons flying as part of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta as well. The annual fiesta attracts balloon pilots from around the globe and 40 U.S. states.

In the first incident, the pilot and passenger — both women — were thrown from the gondola when it landed and bounded along wide terrain before catching fire. They were hospitalized with what was reported as non-life-threatening injuries. The balloon had hit a power line on its descent, causing some equipment damage. An investigation is underway.

In another incident, a balloon called "Mr. Fish'' hit a tree before snagging on a light pole near the Lovelace Medical Center in northeast Albuquerque. The pilot, who said he had 30 years of flying experience, said he had tried to land elsewhere, but unfriendly winds brought him into the city. There were no injuries.

A passenger with a preexisting medical condition was treated at the fiesta launch site after a reported third hard landing on the field.

The nine-day fiesta featured 550 hot air balloons and attracted more than 886,000 spectators, according to the organization's website.

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Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.