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California neighbors come to the rescue of crashing hot air balloon

By Ben Hooper
California neighbors come to the rescue of crashing hot air balloon
Residents of a California neighborhood help a crashing hot air balloon land safely. Inside Edition video screenshot

RANCHO SANTA FE, Calif., Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Residents of a California neighborhood came to the rescue of an out-of-control hot air balloon that was having trouble landing.

Witnesses said the balloon was carrying about a dozen people Sunday when it started losing altitude and headed straight for a busy intersection in Rancho Santa Fe.

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"First, the balloon was going in the wrong direction," witness Lina Hariri told ABC News. "It was going to land on the intersection where cars were going back and forth."

The balloon diverted to a side street, where it struck a tree. Witnesses said the balloon's flames appeared to come dangerously close to the tree's branches.

The pilot of the hot air balloon threw a rope over the side in the hopes of getting help from bystanders, and neighbors gathered to grab onto the rope and pull the balloon to a safe landing spot.

"Instead of panicking, the whole community came together and everybody jumped in like it was their job," said Ric Johnson, who caught the incident on camera. "Everybody helped. Everybody paid attention to the pilot and everybody did their jobs."

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