‘It started flying towards us’: Mysterious fireball ignites blaze in Peachland

Click to play video: 'Home almost lost to fire; glowing orb caught on video' Home almost lost to fire; glowing orb caught on video
Raw video of a mysterious fireball caught on video floating through the night sky near Peachland sparked a blaze Tuesday night – Mar 17, 2021

A mysterious fireball caught on video floating through the night sky near Peachland sparked a blaze Tuesday night.

Local resident Jay Balehowsky said he was taking his garbage out when he noticed a bright object glowing in the sky.

“It seemed like it was kind of circling around,” he said.

Read more: Fireball that lit up Prairie sky was a comet fragment travelling 220,000 km/h, University of Alberta says

Balehowsky started videoing the object.

At that point, he said he thought it was maybe a drone.

“But then we saw it break up, and it started flying towards us,” he said. “We saw the rest of it burn out and then one piece basically fell down into the neighbour’s yard.”

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Click to play video: 'Mysterious fireball in sky sparks blaze near Peachland' Mysterious fireball in sky sparks blaze near Peachland
Mysterious fireball in sky sparks blaze near Peachland – Mar 17, 2021

Balehowksy said he jumped in his truck and drove around to see if he could find it.

At that point, he didn’t know it had sparked a blaze.

Meanwhile, somebody else had spotted the fire from afar and called 911, Peachland fire Chief Dennis Craig said.

Four firetrucks and approximately a dozen firefighters rushed to a report of a grass fire off Ponderosa Drive around 8:45 p.m.

“We actually had difficulty finding it originally, as it was a single caller from a distance,” Craig said. “It wasn’t until we got to a different vantage point that we were able to locate the fire.”

Read more: Apparent meteor seen streaking across the night sky in Calgary, Banff

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“At that point, it had grown, and it was a fairly fast-moving fire given the time of night and the time of year.”

The blaze rapidly spread towards a couple of structures, and the heat melted some of the vinyl siding on a house, Craig said.

Nobody was injured, he added.

Craig said residents in the area didn’t even initially realize that there was a fire right below their house.

“It wasn’t until the fire trucks started showing up,” he said.

The fire chief noted that he isn’t a scientist, but he isn’t convinced that the unidentified object was a meteor.

Read more: Balls of fire — A look at Alberta’s meteor events in 2020

“I don’t think rocks remain combustible too long,” he said. “It doesn’t seem like a hot rock would cause a fire like that.”

“The rocks show the flame because they’re coming through the atmosphere with friction,” he said. “Once they stop moving, they don’t support combustion.”

Read more: Dashcam captures ‘fireball’ over Metro Vancouver in broad daylight

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The fire department plans to go back to the site on Wednesday and see if they can find anything in daylight.

“To be honest, if I didn’t see the video, I’d be very skeptical,” he said. “My initial reaction would have been fireworks or something along those lines.”

Read more: Ogopogo, a fish or a reflection? Video on Okanagan Lake shows something

But given the altitude the object came from, it couldn’t have been fireworks or even a flare, Craig added.

“The video clearly shows something at a high, high altitude that fell from the sky,” Craig said.

“I’ve been in the service now going on 22 years, and this is absolutely a first for me.”

Read more: ‘Pretty creepy’ — Okanagan man believes he’s captured ‘definitive Ogopogo sighting’ on video

Balehowsky said the video was shot on a phone, and it doesn’t fully show the glow and brightness of the fireball.

Although the cause of the fire has not been verified, Craig doesn’t believe it’s suspicious.

Read more: Car-sized asteroid passed Earth by a cosmic hair — and NASA missed it

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“There’s a lot to be learned from this fire,” he said. “It really highlights the importance of fire-smarting your property and making sure that you have no combustible vegetation or debris between zero and 1.5 metres out from your house.”

In this situation, it could have prevented any damage to the house, he added.

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