A mysterious object lit up the night sky up and down the eastern flank of Colorado's Rocky Mountains early Sunday, January 11, then startled witnesses with a deafening explosion that rumbled through the sky for up to a minute, according to some witnesses.
An online source identified only as Rxreq said that radio station KOA in Denver reported at 2:25 am on Sunday that a suspected meteorite had crashed into a church parking lot near a major downtown intersection at approximately 12:30 a.m. that morning. KOA, a 50,000 watt station, said they were receiving a "flood" of calls from people claiming to have seen a "strange light" which reportedly "broke apart" and caused "an explosion" on impact that was felt and heard as far south as Pueblo, Colorado. At 2:30 a.m., however, the station reported that inspectors at the scene in downtown Denver had not found evidence of a meteorite impact.
Reports later in the day included no mention of known impact sites.
No official explanation about the object was immediately forthcoming. Military spokesmen denied the object was a military aircraft. Local scientists speculated it could have been a big meteor or even illegal fireworks, but all conceded it was strange.
Residents from Colorado Springs to Denver flooded area police dispatchers and military operators with calls about the object.
According to Michael Curta, MUFON State Director for Colorado, the widely witnessed phenomenon was an object traveling at high speed in a northeasterly direction. He said he learned that radar at Denver International Airport tracked the object "for a couple seconds."
Curta said that several witnesses reported hearing a "double sonic boom" at about ten minutes after midnight.
One eyewitness, Douglas County resident Gunter Harz, told a reporter for the Denver Post that he saw the phenomenon around 12:15 a.m.
"All of a sudden, there was an impact that shook our house and then a double explosion immediately after the impact," Harz said. "I don't know if a meteorite makes that noise, but I do know that my house was shaking."
But the phenomenon was not related to activities at any of the military installations around Colorado Springs, according to spokespeople for U.S. Space Command at Cheyenne Mountain and Peterson Air Force Base.
"There was nothing that would have created a loud noise or explosion," Lt. Jason Medina, a Peterson Air Force Base spokesman, told the Denver Post.
Katy Garmany, director of the University of Colorado's Fiske Observatory in Boulder, said the object could have been a meteor. But, she said, "You have to consider the possibility that somebody was shooting off some high-grade illegal fireworks."
The fireworks explanation, however, seemed inadequate once it became known that the object was seen and heard over an area of hundreds of square miles.
Jack Murphy, curator of geology for the Denver Museum of Natural History, told the Denver Post that he thinks the object may have been a meteor that impacted the ground. If that was the case, he hoped that scientifically valuable pieces of the meteor could be found in the area, he said.
According to Murphy, the last big fireball that came this close to the ground in Colorado was recorded by a security video camera in Colorado Springs in 1995. That same camera recorded Sunday's event too, he said.
The loud sound many people heard probably was a sonic boom from the meteor, he said.
One witness near Colorado Springs, who did not see any lights in the sky, told CNI News that as the object apparently passed overhead, it made a very loud sound like rolling thunder that lasted, in his estimation, nearly a minute.
Another eyewitness in downtown Denver, Atom Abbott, said he saw the phenomenon shortly after midnight. "It was a big, blue fireball. I thought it was a plane crashing, at first," he told the Denver Post.
Abbott's visual report was confirmed by others who claimed to see a white or blue light speeding through the sky. Some other witnesses said they saw green and pink lights in the sky as well.
Larry Sanders of Denver said he was driving in Weld County [north of Denver] after midnight when he saw what he described as "a very large bright light that lit up the clouds and several smaller, secondary explosions."
Cmdr. David Knox of the U.S. Space Command at Cheyenne Mountain outside of Colorado Springs pointed out that almost no one is watching for meteors coming toward the earth, even large ones.
"I don't want to say it was a meteorite, because I don't know," he said. "All I can say is it wasn't one of the 8,000 objects that we track." The agency monitors all objects "bigger than a softball" in Earth orbit, he said.
Adding to the mystery of this event were several reports that seemed to indicate similar events on the previous day, or the day after.
Gayle and David Nixon, members of the UFO Institute in Colorado Springs, told CNI News that they heard several such reports at a meeting of witnesses on Tuesday night, January 13.
"Several people in Colorado Springs reported witnessing a ball of fire in the afternoon sky at around 4:30 pm [on] Saturday, Jan. 10," Gayle Nixon said. "One witness said she saw a red fireball heading south, dipping down towards town. There was no sound with it. The UFO Institute is investigating this further."
Nixon said that another sighting occurred on Monday, January 12. "On Monday, while driving back from Kansas, a man saw a large, green ball come straight down from the sky, and go down behind a hill, somewhere between Limon [75 miles northeast of Colorado Springs] and Colorado Springs. No noise accompanied this sight either," Nixon said.
CNI News notes that an extraordinary number of large objects seem to be falling from the sky in recent weeks. This event over Colorado strongly resembles similar events over the Pacific Northwest on November 14, 1997.
As previously reported, an enormous object -- estimated at more than sixty feet across -- fell in Greenland on December 9, causing a flash bright enough to illuminate the entire sky, according to witnesses. Though information on that object is sketchy due to severe winter conditions in the area, authorities say an all-out search for it will commence as soon as weather permits.
In yet another incident, burning fragments of a large meteor were blamed in the deaths of several children in Colombia on December 14.
Original file name: CNI - Fireball.Colorado.final
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