California fire officials say that a house that caught fire in rural Nevada County earlier in the month was not struck by a meteorite.
Penn Valley Fire Protection District Captain Clayton Thomas told Fox News Digital in an emailed statement that he had examined the site.
“There is no evidence of a meteor landing in that area. Also, meteors are a very poor source of ignition, so that would not have been the case in this instance either,” he explained on Wednesday. “The cause remains under investigation.”
Thomas also told The Sacramento Bee on Tuesday that investigators have been looking into the cause of the Nov. 4 fire.
“I am very confident that a rock from space did not hit this house,” he said then.
Penn Valley Fire Protection District, the CAL FIRE Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit and others responded to the blaze in the Mooney Flat area near Lake Englebright.
It took several hours to suppress the evening fire, which killed the family dog Tug and rabbits in the cattle ranch home, according to FOX 40.
In a Facebook post, Penn Valley Fire Protection District previously said witnesses had reported that a “bright object fell from sky immediately before this event in the same area.”
The Penn Valley Fire Protection District outside the California home (Credit: Penn Valley Fire Protection District/Facebook)
Social media users shared images and video of a bright yellowish light streaking across the sky, and NPR reported that neighbors told arriving firefighters that they had heard a thunderous crash at about the same time as the blaze is believed to have begun.
The homeowner, Dustin Procita, told FOX 40 that he had heard a loud crash and a bang before he started to smell something burning.
“The smoke was coming out and the flames were coming out and I was going to do my best to get my dog,” he recalled.
A member of the CAL FIRE Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit at the scene (Credit: CAL FIRE Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit/Twitter)
Family members started a GoFundMe for Procita and his wife Jeanette, who are looking for a trailer to live in while they rebuild.
The page says the pair do not have any homeowners or fire insurance “due to the rural area they live in and the exorbitantly high premiums.”
“We are still rummaging through the ruble looking for anything salvageable as well as the meteor itself. The fire department, Air Force and NASA continue to assist with the search,” an update to the page said.
The CAL FIRE Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit responds to the California fire (Credit: CAL FIRE Nevada-Yuba-Placer Unit/Twitter)
Speaking to NPR, Thomas noted that Nov. 4 was the peak of the Southern Taurid meteor shower.
And yet, Robert Lunsford, the report coordinator for the American Meteor Society, said the estimated trajectory related to the flash of light seen in the northern California sky put it hundreds of miles away from the Penn Valley house.
Most meteors burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere and are much cooler — and known as meteorites — by the time they hit the ground.
In theory, NASA says the Taurids and Geminids could send meteorites down to our surface every once in a while, but no remnants have been traced to them definitively.
While the odds of someone’s house being struck by a meteor are astronomically small, they are not zero.
“But coincidence does not equate to causation,” Thomas told the outlet.
Julia Musto is a reporter for Fox News and Fox Business Digital.