On February 6, 1999, at 1700 Eastern Standard Time, N32877, an AX-8 hot-air balloon manufactured by The Balloon Works, burst into flames and burned after landing near Beech Island, South Carolina. The balloon was operated by the pilot/owner under the provisions of Title 14 CFR 91, and visual flight rules. A flight plan was not filed for the local pleasure flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site. There were no injuries to the pilot or the two passengers and the balloon was destroyed. The flight originated in Augusta, Georgia, about 1600 EST.

According to the pilot, after landing, he turned off the pilot light valves on the tanks but not on the burners. The pilot then started deflating the balloon and laid the basket over on its side. According to the pilot, while exiting the basket, he attempted to turn off the burner but bumped the main burner valve. The flames from the burner ignited the balloon envelope, and started a ground fire. No mechanical malfunctions or failures were reported by the pilot.

The Balloon Works Firefly Series Flight Manual states that, "Just prior to touchdown: (1) Make sure that the Trigger Valve (and/or Fire 2 Valve if in use) is firmly closed, (2) Close the Pilot Light Safety Shut Off. Action (2) is a precaution against possibility that the pilot lights or accidental burning might damage the envelope or ignite anything at the landing site." (See attached balloon flight manual).

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