Expert: Unlikely meteorite caused grass fire

Soil testing will need to be done to confirm

This grass fire in SE Portland was initially suspected to have been sparked by a meteorite, August 13 2015. (KOIN)
meteor-burn
This grass fire in SE Portland was initially suspected to have been sparked by a meteorite, August 13 2015. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, OR (KOIN) — Experts say it was highly unlikely that a meteorite caused a grass fire outside a Southeast Portland home on Thursday morning.

Earlier Thursday, KOIN spoke to Rich Tyler with Portland Fire and Rescue, who said that crews found a patch of scorched grass about 5 feet in diameter on a lawn of a home on SE 44th ave.

Tyler said that based on the angle of the trajectory, the burn looks like it came from the sky, or above ground.

Officials spoke with neighbors and compared stories who said a flash and a boom caused the fire.

However, Dick Pugh with Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory (CML) at Portland State University tells KOIN that meteorites don’t start fires when they impact the ground, and if one does hit, it would have a “very obvious impact zone.”

Pugh says there have been no known incidents of meteorites landing in Oregon.

The cause of the fire is currently listed as naturally caused, but they are looking into having the soil tested to confirm.

“We are not in the business of identifying meteorites, just extinguishing fires,” Tyler said, but he didn’t deny the possibility.

The homeowner, Patrick Story, spoke to KOIN and recalled the events. Watch below.

The Perseid meteor shower peaked on Wednesday night and was visible throughout the US.

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