Balloon out of lake

UPDATE: 6:15 a.m.

Joy Klempner of Okanagan Ballooning says the balloon was successfully removed from Okanagan Lake later Sunday afternoon.

"If you could let boaters know, it is no longer a hazard," said Klempner.

UPDATE: 2 p.m.

North Westside Fire Rescue Fire Chief Jason Satterthwaite says the hot air balloon pilot was unable to overcome a sudden change in wind direction and was forced over Okanagan Lake this morning.

Satterthwaite says despite all the pilot's attempts to get over dry land, fuel ran out, forcing pilot John Klempner from Okanagan Ballooning to make an emergency landing on the water.

A marine crew with North Westside Fire Rescue headed out on the lake to assist the Kelowna fire rescue crew.

“They met Kelowna regional rescue on the water and attempted to drag the submerged balloon to shore. The balloon was too heavy and started to sink Kelowna’s boat,” explains Satterthwaite.

“North Westside’s Marine 103 was able to recover the balloons basket and bring it to shore.”

Local residents Paul Harpnick and his daughter Georgia helped unload the basket and transport it for the pilot.

“The balloon is still in the water and a salvage company has been contacted to retrieve it,” adds Satterthwaite.

“The pilot managed to escape unharmed.”

UPDATE: 11:15 a.m.

Fire and emergency crews are having a very difficult time removing the water-logged hot air ballon from the lake.

They are now looking into a 'Plan B' after attempts to tow the balloon were unsuccessful.

The balloon is partly submerged in the lake and could be a hazard to boaters.  

UPDATE: 9:45 a.m.

Reports indicate the pilot has been rescued off the balloon and is safely on a nearby boat. 

The balloon itself was attached to several boats and is currently being towed to shore. 

Castanet will have more details as they become available.  

ORIGINAL: 9 a.m.

Lake Country fire crews are rushing to the scene of what appears to be a hot air balloon in distress.

The hot air balloon was witnessed touching down and lifting off from Okanagan Lake about one kilometre from the shore.

One witness heard screams coming from the balloon.

Early reports indicate all passengers are now safely off the balloon and only the balloon operator remains on board.

It is currently in the water and is reportedly floating towards the west side with two boats following it closely.

Fire crews on the way.

Castanet will have more details as they become available.  

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