Witnesses saw the "The Wings of Wind" balloon crash into power lines.
"We heard the explosion from my house. One of the guys from the gondola--fell off. He was on fire when he fell off. It was a very scary thing to see, man," witness Leroy Acosta said.
APD spokesman John Walsh confirmed the fatality shortly before 8:00 a.m. and reported that a second person had been airlifted by helicopter in critical condition.
State police say the balloon hit the power lines twice, cutting a fuel line on first impact, then igniting the balloon on the second when it severed a gas tank.
Shortly after, witnesses say the balloon envelope separated from the wicker gondola.
Witness Paul Solozabal also saw the accident.
"The gondola separated and fell, but the balloon continued to rise. There was a large flame under the balloon, it rose so fast it made the balloon take off almost like a missile or something," he said.
As fire began to swallow the basket, state police say the two men inside fell out.
The first man, according to witnesses, was aflame. He's been identified as Stephen Lachendro, 49, of Brunswick, New Jersey.
Rio Rancho Fire Battalion Chief Paul Bearce says Lachendro was dead at the scene lying on the side of a ditch and the Sproul was unconscious.
Sproul, a pilot with 10 years flying experience, was airlifted to University of New Mexico Hospital with serious injuries including a broken leg, broken hip, punctured lungs and burns to the face.
He underwent surgery Friday afternoon. Sproul's brother said the injured pilot's condition has been upgraded.
"The good news, he's been upgraded from critical to serious, he's got burns to the face, a broken femur, a broken hip, and punctured lungs."
The balloon continued over the San Felipe Pueblo. It dropped two propane tanks a half a mile away from where it made contact with the power lines and landed 14 miles away, sparking a small brush fire.
Nearly 1,700 people in the Enchanted Hills subdivision were without power after the balloon struck the power line. As of noon, power had been restored to all but one of them.
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