A possible meteor caught on video that “looks like a flaming basketball” falling from the sky may have been responsible for destroying a Northern California man’s home last week.
Dustin Procita was in his home with his two dogs on Friday in Nevada County, about 60 miles northeast of Sacramento, when he heard “a big bang” in his usually quiet community, he told NBC affiliate KCRA.
“I started to smell smoke and I went on to my porch and it was completely engulfed in flames,” Procita told KCRA.
The Penn Valley Fire Department received a call about the fire at around 7:26p.m. and responded to the home on Englebright Dam Road. With assistance from Cal Fire, the fire was contained almost three hours later, Cal Fire spokesperson Mary Eldridge told NBC News.
One dog died in the fire, and a house, travel trailer and pickup truck were consumed by it, according to Eldridge.
Authorities are now investigating whether it was possibly a meteor that fell from the sky onto Porcita’s home.
“That is a potential cause, but it’s too early to pinpoint one,” Penn Valley Fire Department Captain Clayton Thomas said. “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.”
It can be several weeks before the department determines a cause, Thomas added.
According to NASA, every year from September through November the Earth is hit by debris and dust left behind by Comet Encke. The debris “hits the Earth’s atmosphere at 65,000 mph and burns up” creating what the agency calls the Taurid meteor shower.
“Most years the shower is weak, and only a few Taurid meteors can be seen each night,” NASA said in a 2015 blog post. “Other years, the Taurids can put on a show.”
When shown a video of the possible meteorite that had fallen in the area, Porcita said it looked like a “flaming basketball.”
“Definitely feel very lucky that it was 30 feet away from me and not five,” Porcita told KCRA.
Porcita says he considers himself lucky.
“They said it’s a one in four trillion chance, so I guess I might be buying a lottery ticket today,” he said to KCRA.