Clinton, Massachusetts – September 14, 1899
On September 14, 1899, the eleventh annual Worcester East Agricultural Fair was in progress in Clinton, Massachusetts, a small town to the northeast of Worcester, Mass. Part of the advertised entertainment included a balloon ascension and parachute drop to be performed by a Boston aeronaut identified as “Professor Beaumont”.
Just as the balloon began to rise, the crowd of 5,000 spectators could see that the bottom of the wicker basket was on fire, which was not part of the act. Beaumont was powerless to do anything from his position, and was forced to stay with the balloon as it continued to rise and burn. (How the fire was believed to have begun was not stated.)
Finally the balloon reached an altitude where it was safe for Beaumont to jump and deploy his parachute, which he did, and landed without injury.
Source: The Daily Morning Journal And Courier, (New Haven, CT.) “Balloon Caught Fire” September 15, 1899