Did a meteorite cause a house fire? Officials investigate California blaze that killed dog

Fire officials in Northern California are trying to determine whether a meteorite caused a fire that destroyed a home and killed a dog Friday night.

The Penn Valley Fire Protection District responded to a fire at 7:25 p.m. Friday at a home in the rural hills of Nevada County, California.

“The incident commander was approached by multiple members of the public who claimed to have seen a bright object fall from the sky in that vicinity immediately prior to the fire’s dispatch and/or ignition,” Penn Valley Fire Protection District Captain Clayton Thomas told USA TODAY.

The fire was contained by about 8:55 p.m., but it resulted in the total loss of the home, the death of the homeowner’s dog and a number of rabbits. No human injuries were reported, according to Thomas.

Thomas said the homeowner, Dustin Procita, who was inside the home, reported hearing a loud bang before the fire ignited. He was able to save one of his dogs, but could not reenter the home to save the other, according to Thomas.

“I always watched meteor showers as a kid but I didn’t want them landing in my yard or through my roof,” Procita told KCRA.

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NASA confirmed reports of a fireball sighting over Northern California at around 7:30 p.m. Friday. The fireball was not believed to be part of the Taurid meteor shower that lit up the sky over the weekend, NASA said in a Facebook post.

One astronomer, professor Stephen Nelson at the University of Tulane put the odds of being hit and killed by a meteorite at 1 in 1.6 million.

Thomas is helping investigate the cause of the fire, which is still undetermined. Investigators were still assessing the site Monday morning. Thomas said it would be several weeks before the investigation is complete.

The fire department plans to reach out to NASA and the U.S. Air Force to aid in the investigation, Thomas said.

An inquiry sent to NASA by USA TODAY was not immediately returned Monday.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Did a meteorite start California house fire? Investigation underway

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