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Meteorite impact investigated as a possible cause of fire that destroyed a house in California, U.S.

Meteorite impact investigated as a possible cause of fire that destroyed home in California, U.S.

A family’s house in Nevada County, California caught fire after several witnesses described a bright ball of light falling from the sky. The fire took place at around 19:30 PDT on November 4, 2022 (02:30 UTC on November 5) — the same time as numerous witnesses saw a very bright fireball over the same region.

  • The official investigation into the cause of the fire is in progress
  • It’s highly unlikely the two events are related

The owner of the home — Dustin Procita — said he heard a big bang and started to smell smoke. “I went onto my porch and it was completely engulfed in flames.”

Witnesses from all over the region saw a bright ball in the sky and followed its path to see where it landed. That path might have led to Procita’s home.1

Penn Valley Fire Department Capt. Josh Miller says he didn’t see the bright ball but soon heard about it from witnesses.

“I did not see what it was, but from everybody I talked to, it was a flaming ball falling from the sky and landed in that general area,” Miller said. “I had one individual tell me about it first, and like, ‘OK, I’ll put that in the back of my mind.’ But then more people – two, three, four more – started coming in and talking about it.”

Miller says it will take about two weeks to determine the cause of the fire.

Interestingly, a very bright fireball was seen by many people streaking through the night sky over northern California at around the same time Procito’s home caught fire.2

According to the American Meteor Society (AMS), the fireball entered the atmosphere over northern California at 02:27 UTC on November 5, 2022 (19:27 PDT, November 4).

Analysis of witness reports submitted to the AMS, the first sighting occurred when the meteor was 77 km (48 miles) above the town of Fort Jones.

The object moved to the south at 51 500 km/h (32 000 mph), traveling around 46 km (29 miles) in the upper atmosphere before fragmenting at an altitude of 45 km (28 miles) above the hills just to the west of Callahan.

northern california fireball heatmap november 5 2022
Northern California fireball on November 5, 2022 – heatmap. Credit: AMS

The preliminary trajectory, however, does not fit the location of Procita’s home — which is located in Nevada County, about 240 km (150 miles) SSE.

nevada county home fire and northern california fireball trajectory november 4 2022 tw
The trajectory of a fireball over northern California on November 5, 2022, and an approximate location of the destroyed home in Nevada County, California. Distance: ~240 km (150 miles). Credit: The Watchers, Google

References:

1 Man wonders if possible meteorite destroyed home: ‘I heard a big bang’ – NBC 11 News – November 6, 2022

2 Very bright fireball over northern California, U.S. – The Watchers – November 6, 2022

Featured image credit: KCRA (stillshot)

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