March 29, 2020

More witnesses report seeing bright-colored County fireball

MADAWASKA — A mystery remains about a bright-colored light that appeared in the skies of northern Maine on Tuesday night. Reports of more sightings surfaced Thursday, some from as far south as Oakland.

Ellen Cousins of Millinocket said Thursday she saw the “bright orange thing streak across the sky” as she came out of a store between 7 and 8 p.m. Tuesday. “It was in the northern sky,” she said.

Evelyn Robinson of Island Falls spotted the light “streaking across the sky” as she drove down Interstate 95 from Houlton to Island Falls at about 9:30 Tuesday night.

Kelly Sirois of Oakland was at her Middle Street home Tuesday night with her father, Ron Sirois, when “we heard and felt a big bang.”

“It happened twice, about 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. It was kind of like something hit the house,” she said. “We checked and there was nothing.”

Oakland police Officer Rick Stubbert said police there had a report of someone “seeing something fall into McGrath Pond Tuesday night. It came from the sky. We may have some divers look for it Friday.”

McGrath Pond is about four miles from Oakland’s Middle Street.

Earlier reports on Wednesday were from people within 20 miles from each other in the St. John Valley. Police departments in Fort Kent and Madawaska received reports of the brightly lit fireball Tuesday night. The calls came from Madawaska and St. Francois, New Brunswick. A woman in St. Agatha also heard loud noises the same evening.

Cousins and Robinson called in their reports Thursday after learning others had seen a fireball streaking across the northern Maine sky.

The Federal Aviation Administration in Boston has reported no missing aircraft, and the National Weather Service in Caribou and Gray said it doesn’t track meteor showers.

No meteor showers were expected Tuesday night.

Alan Davenport, director of the Jordan Planetarium at the University of Maine, said finding out what the fireball was may be like “looking for a needle in a haystack, I’m afraid.”

“I have not heard about any unexpected event,” he said Thursday afternoon in a telephone interview.

However, Davenport added: “It sounds like a meteor. It could also be debris floating around. We get sporadic meteor activity, and 10 tons of debris fall to the earth each day.”

Reports by Cousins and Robinson were similar to Grace Ouellette’s report from Madawaska on Wednesday. They all reported a bright light in the sky trailed by a long, white tail.

“It reminded me of a flare gun,” said Cousins. “It was bright orange, with a white tail. It was bright all around this thing. I have never seen anything like this.”

Like the other reports, Cousins said, “It seemed to be coming down to the earth. I looked at it because it was so bright. It seemed to be in the north sky.”

Robinson was traveling south on I-95, from Houlton to Island Falls, with a friend when “we saw it on the left side of the car. We both saw it and wondered what the heck it was. It was a green-blue streak of light with flashing sparks coming out of the tail.

“I thought it was a shooting star. It was heading east. It was very fast, very bright and falling to the ground at a 45-degree angle. It was from the top to the bottom of my side window,” said Robinson.

“It was very shocking to see that so close. It was there and gone. It unnerved me a bit. It was bright, clear and quick. It wasn’t like in the movies,” she said.

Davenport said the description of the sightings “sounds like a meteor.”

“It would not be surprising,” he said. “It’s common for that to happen. These people may have all seen the same thing. It’s very typical for something like that to overfly the area.”

Davenport said that, “while it may have seemed to come down locally, it probably came down very far away. It could be two states away.”

Davenport pointed out that some meteors “crash to earth and some burn up before striking earth. To crash to earth, they would have to survive their own inferno of coming in.”

The planetarium director also said loud noises could also be heard during these situations. One woman from St. Agatha reported loud noise during the evening Tuesday.

“When they do come down, they can create a sonic wave or a loud hissing, crackling sound,” said Davenport. “If it’s heavy enough, it could be like thunder or cannon fire when it hits the ground.”

Davenport said the meteor “could have vaporized or a chunk may have made it.

“If it did make it, we may never find it.”

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