An advertising blimp not associated with the U.S. Open caught fire and crashed in a field near the Erin Hills Golf Course, where the 2017 U.S. Open tournament is currently underway. Police officials said the AirSign blimp was “rapidly descending” around 11:15 AM ET on Thursday, and witnesses were quick to share videos of the incident on Twitter.
Fortunately, both of the area’s fire departments were already stationed at the event, according to Wisconsin’s Fox 6 Now, and they reacted quickly when the blimp’s propane tanks exploded.
The CEO of AirSign told the Fox affiliate that the pilot, Trevor Thompson, was the only person on board the blimp at the time of the “catastrophic failure” of the blimp’s envelope. Thompson was taken from the crash site after reportedly suffering burns, but they were not critical and his injuries are not life-threatening. Some witnesses claimed on social media to have seen people parachuting from the blimp; however, the company denies this.
Initial reports claimed that the blimp involved may have belonged to Goodyear, but the company issued its own statement on Twitter.
The USGA also released a statement: "First responders were quick to arrive at the scene and the pilot is currently being treated for unknown injuries. No other people were involved in the incident and local law enforcement is currently investigating. Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot at this time."
Below are some witness videos of the incident and its aftermath. They main contain profanity.