FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — A NASA scientist says that the source of what many described as an explosion near Fort St. John on Wednesday night could very well have been a meteor doing just that.
Bill Cooke, the lead scientist of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, said that it is definitely likely that a meteor exploding while entering the atmosphere is what caused noise and vibrations to be felt by hundreds of area residents. The event happened at around 10:35 on Wednesday evening, and hundreds of residents took to social media to share their reactions shortly thereafter.
Officials from the BC Oil and Gas Commission, the RCMP, BC Hydro, and the Geological Survey of Canada all confirmed that they were unaware of what happened, ruling out an industrial accident, Hydro equipment malfunction, Site C construction, or an earthquake.
“Since you’ve eliminated the obvious, I would say that greatly increases the odds that this was a fireball,” said Cooke. “It’s hard to put a number, but it certainly enhances the probability that this was a sonic entrant caused by a meteor or fireball.”
Cooke said that when it comes to tracking meteors on radar, Canada is apparently at the forefront. He explained that the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar operated by the University of Western Ontario, which he said is the “best meteor radar in the world” does track these bodies but likely missed Wednesday’s event due to the distance between Fort St. John and London.
The meteor theory gained traction after Dawson Creek resident Vadim Stolyarov told our reporters that he saw a meteorite from his deck on Wednesday night. Stolyarov said that compared to fireball seen over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013, the meteor was “way smaller and didn’t get to the ground.”
This isn’t the first time a fireball has erupted in the skies over Northern B.C. On the morning of January 18th,, 2000, a meteorite exploded over the town of Atlin, the fragments of which were discovered later that day on the frozen surface of Tagish Lake.