When the call came across to fire and police personnel, it said a hot air balloon, vehicle and tree were on fire.
All ended up being true just before 9 a.m. on Tuesday, June 20, but not as serious as what first responders expected.
According to Lt. Jim Pott, of the Sedona Police Department, an employee of Northern Lights Balloon Expeditions was at their home base on Dry Creek Road filling the hot air balloon tanks. Pott said information on the scene was limited but somehow a fire started on the opposite side of the vehicle and trailer that housed the propane tanks.
The flame left a burn mark 30 feet high on a tree just feet away. Pott said the driver got into the SUV and drove it down onto Dry Creek Road to avoid the tank. Two trees in the driveway caught fire.
The employee got out of the vehicle and attempted to turn the tank valves off and in the process sustained burns to both arms. One tank then exploded, knocking him to the ground, he said. He was transported by ambulance to Sedona campus of Verde Valley Medical Center.
The explosion resulted in severe damage to the SUV and trailer as well as the balloon and tanks. Dry Creek Road was closed for more than an hour.
“Luckily he had the presence of mind to move the vehicle because this could have been much worse,” Sedona Fire District Fire Marshal Jon Davis said on the scene. “In talking with other employees, they heard a loud pop and then saw the fire. We’re not sure what caused it.”
Sixteen-year-old Noah Abedon heard the explosion and walked down the street to see what was happening. “We heard the explosion but thought it was a water main break,” he said. “I then saw the pillar of smoke. At first I just thought it was a car on fire, which seemed odd. But then when I saw the trailer with the tanks it all made sense.”