According to the Denver Post, several people saw a large fiery object trailed by a plume of smoke crash to the ground near the ski-resort town of Breckenridge, Colorado, about noon on Tuesday, January 27.
"It was a fairly large object that was on fire with smoke that was spiraling off the back of it," said Blue River Marshal Steve Ford, who saw it from his car near Blue River Road and Highway 9.
"My first thought was that it was a meteor. It was a vertical shot toward the ground, and I'm sure it impacted the ground," Ford said. He watched the object plummet more than a thousand feet but lost sight of it at tree level.
John Fisher, a resident of the nearby town of Alma, was in Breckenridge when he spotted the object. He said it created a visible trail that covered a quarter of the sky from his vantage point as he drove north on Highway 9.
Daylight fireballs must be exceptionally large and bright to be so visible.
The Rocky Mountain News reported a second fireball in Carbon County, Wyoming, where investigators were searching for debris associated with a "ball of flame" that reportedly crashed into the ground near the town of Hanna on Tuesday afternoon, January 27, within hours of the Breckenridge event. Hanna is about 175 miles northwest of Breckenridge.
The Wyoming fireball was reported by the pilot of a passenger airliner. Remarkably, the pilot "reported he did get some turbulence from the object. He saw the debris and felt the shock wave from it" said Jim Patton of the Federal Aviation Administration, who characterized the object as probably a meteorite or space junk.
A third large fireball was sighted that same evening, again in the vicinity of Breckenridge, Colorado. Witnesses could not agree on the exact time of the sighting, however, suggesting the possibility that more than one fireball was seen that night.
According to the Denver Post, witness Mike Tukewicz was driving south into Breckenridge on Highway 9 when he and his wife spotted the fireball at about 8:45 pm.
"It was blue and glowing, with a hint of orange at the rear, traveling from east to west," Tukewicz said. "I must have seen it for a full three seconds before it either disappeared or burned out."
John and Monique Berwyn also viewed the fireball around 9 p.m. from their home in Summit Cove. "I thought it might have been an airplane going down, but my husband said no, that's a meteorite," Monique Berwyn said.
Adding to the mystery, Breckenridge resident Jon Sperber told the Denver Post that he was driving south on Main Street at 10:45 pm when he and a friend saw a bluish-green fireball streak east to west across the sky.
"It looked like an egg and was so bright that we could see smoke behind it," Sperber said.
"The key to this thing is the smoke," said Doug Revelle at Los Alamos National Laboratory. "That means it's very big."
Bart Weis of the geology department at the Denver Museum of Natural History said museum personnel would search for the object in the mountains near Breckenridge.
Bill Steigerwald, spokesman for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said the center has received an unusually high number of reported meteor sightings this year.
Back to document index
Original file name: CNI - CO/WYO Fireballs
This file was converted with TextToHTML - (c) Logic n.v.