Friday, June 20, 2014

Hot air balloon makes emergency landing in Coffee Creek Correctional Facility parking lot

A hot air balloon low on fuel made an emergency landing in the parking lot of the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility Thursday, prison officials say.

The pilot, Randall Fuehrer, and two passengers were not injured when the balloon landed about 9:15 a.m. at the Wilsonville-area women's prison, said Vicki Reynolds, a Coffee Creek spokeswoman.

Fuehrer told prison officials he was taking part in the Festival of Balloons in Tigard, but was running low on fuel  and battling strong wind. The prison parking lot was the safest place available to land, Reynolds said. The three-day festival officially began Friday, but rain prevented hot air balloons from leaving the ground on opening day.

Inmates who were in the recreation yard at the time of the balloon landing were sent inside, according to Reynolds. They remained there for about 30 minutes as the balloon was removed from the area.

"The parking lot is far enough from the main facility that we felt confident in assuming this wasn't an inmate escape attempt," Reynolds said.

Fuehrer is the owner of Outback Balloon LLC, a McMinnville-based business that offers balloon flights, repairs and flight training, according to his company's website. Fuehrer did not immediately return a call for comment from The Oregonian on Friday.

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