'Flaming Basketball' From Sky May Have Caused House Fire

California man lost home, dog, truck in blaze
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2022 6:40 PM CST

Peope in a remote part of Northern California saw a possible meteor Friday night—and an area rancher believes it may have caused the fire that burned down his home and killed one of his dogs. Nevada County resident Dustin Procita tells KCRA that he was relaxing at home after feeding his cows when he heard something hit the house. "I heard a big bang," he says. "I started to smell smoke. I went onto my porch and it was completely engulfed in flames." He managed to save one dog, but smoke and flames made it impossible to go back and save the other. Authorities are investigating the cause of the blaze, which also destroyed a trailer and a pickup truck.

The fireball was caught on video Friday night, and witnesses said it seemed to hit the ground in the middle of nowhere. A meteorite "is a potential cause, but it's too early to pinpoint one," says Penn Valley Fire Department Captain Clayton Thomas, per NBC. "I can say that during the incident many people approached the fire department to say they saw a potential meteor fall in that area. What we haven’t seen yet is any video or witness say that it struck an actual structure." Procita says the object seen on video looks like a "flaming basketball"—and he's glad it landed 30 feet away from him, not 5.

"I always watched meteor showers as a kid, but I didn't want them landing in my yard or through my roof," says Procita. " They said it's a one in four trillion chance so I guess I might be buying a lottery ticket today." NASA says the southern Taurids meteor shower, which happens every year as Earth passes through debris from Comet Encke, is peaking this week, the Guardian reports. (Read more meteor stories.)

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