Skip to comments.Fire at Auckland Warehouse Caused by Meteorite Impact? (Update)
Posted on 12/14/2008 11:06:09 PM PST by LibWhacker
Update (16:00 PST Dec. 14th): Eyewitness accounts are becoming more detailed, if you were in the Auckland area at 10pm (December 13th) and you saw something, please let me know (by leaving a comment below). Please give as detailed an account as possible, including your location and the direction at which you saw the meteorite. Hopefully well piece this event together
A fire erupted in an Auckland warehouse shortly after several eyewitness reported seeing a meteorite over the North Island of New Zealand. One witness (named Mike) even went as far to say that he watched the fiery object hit the Ponsonby area of the city, followed by an exploding noise.
The time of the several eyewitness reports (not amateur astronomer reports I want to point out) and the start of the blaze appears to correlate (although the local media is a little sketchy about the details at the moment). Apparently the fire caused serious roof damage to the warehouse and there was one minor casualty (a man who happened to be in the building at the time). However, none of the surrounding buildings were touched.
The meteorite was observed at around 10pm last night, and the fire was eventually extinguished at 11:30pm.
Before we go leaping to conclusions, blaming the property damage on cosmic pay-back, well have to wait for more details. If this meteorite had so many eyewitnesses, one would hope the bright event was caught on a camera at some point. It would be nice to find out whether there was an all-sky camera or some kind of survey peering into the night sky at the time. As with the Colorado fireball last week, and the Saskatchewan fireball in November, there were no shortages of CCTV camera images, police car videos, camcorder snaps and observatory all-sky camera videos of the sky.
Although Auckland stands just as much chance of being hit by a meteorite as the rest of the world, New Zealand isnt exactly a big target. Plus, I think the police will be having words with the guy who just happened to be in the building at the time. Unless he loves his job that much or he had a late project to work on ? I dont know, but I doubt the fire investigators first priority will be to look for meteorite fragments.
Call me cynical, but I think Exhibit A will be a petrol canister and not a chunk of charred rock from outer space. Place your bets now, Ill update this article with news as I get it.
A New Zealand-based Astroengine.com reader followed up this article with her account of the possibility of a meteorite causing the Ponsonby fire:
I saw the meteorite from the top of Mount Eden and I have a BSc in Geology so have a good understanding of what I saw. The blinding green flash was the meteorite entering our atmosphere, it didnt seem to break the sound barrier as it entered. It looked like it was burning out and left a vapor trail that hung for about five minutes. It was going very fast and would have been burning at about 2,000 degrees, the same as basaltic magma. To clarify, a meteorite is smaller than a metre in diameter and they are not that rare. The meteorite was travelling towards the Ponsonby area and I am not at all suprised that it caused a building to ignite. - Melissa (comment below)
This is interesting as this appears to be the most detailed eyewitness account so far, thank you Melissa for your help. Were you in Auckland at the time of the blaze? Your account could help piece together what happened. Feel free to leave a comment and Ill credit you in this article. Thanks!
Source: NZ Herald
I bet their insurance policy has an exclusion for fires caused by meteorites.
I didn’t see or hear the meteorite, but there were people on the radio reporting it.
About Ponsonby, the supposed target area:
Ponsonby is one of the “artsy/trendy” parts of Auckland City, with plenty of people around, seldom deserted at any time of day or nite (particularly busy Saturday).
Old-style homes circa 1910-1930, narrow back-streets. Quite a desirable neighborhood for some folk.
There is a large homosexualist community in Ponsonby, and each year they put on a “Hero Parade”, something like the Mardi Gras. Although it always loses money, this parade draws in lots of tourists and visitors.
Chances are good there will be further witnesses if it was indeed a meteorite.
...”THEIR HERE!” Who is THEIR? Perhaps you meant THEY’RE HERE, in any case send them here, to pick me up, off the planet, or back to New Zealand, Auckland with be fine...
Take me with you.
...Could be valiable if found, hope no injuries to anyone at the impact zone, will keep up with this, op yer let us know what yer hear...
It is REALLY REALLY RARE for a meteorite to cause a fire. Not impossible, but oh... somewhere between 1 in 250,000 to 1 in 500,000 I’d guess.
> It is REALLY REALLY RARE for a meteorite to cause a fire. Not impossible, but oh... somewhere between 1 in 250,000 to 1 in 500,000 Id guess.
Ponsonby’s buildings are mostly constructed out of old timber. Given the age of the buildings, I’d speculate much of that timber would be kauri — a hardwood impregnated with natural resin. Burns well.
If I had to speculate further I could surmise maybe 250,000 more plausible causes for a building fire in Pononby than a meteorite. Like a clandestine methamphetamines lab, for instance.
...OK, but yer have to get to Lexington KY. I have a wife, stepson, daughter-in-law, a grandson, and four grand-daughters. Going to New Zealand might incur help with the monetary package deal. My brother is a booking agent with United Airlines, in Denver, Colorado. If yer intentions are leaving the planet, we might be waiting for the mothership for a while. I hope they’ll give me a call back soon. Shht, I’m ready for a Greyhound Bus, abduct me out of Kentucky, anywhere...
We need separate insurances for flood and earthquake, I wounder if this guy is covered?
Coincidence as I clicked on this thread I was also watchin the doc theory that a ten thou mega ton blast of a meaterite hit somdom and gomorrah.
Makes since then how the Mrs. who turned into a pillar of salt.
Since our bodies have such a high content of salt and then vaporize the whole body and you would have a chunck of rock salt left.
(totally speculation on my part)
I have a friend that is a famous professional meteorite hunter. He says that there were a few that might have caused some fires, but it is a very rare situation with freakish coincidences.
> Coincidence as I clicked on this thread I was also watchin the doc theory that a ten thou mega ton blast of a meaterite hit somdom and gomorrah.
Interesting theory. If God can do this once, then He can certainly do it again. There are places on this earth (like San Francisco) where it might not pay to be too close to on Judgment Day. Ponsonby might just be another. So might Rio de Janiero...
NASA says otherwise
NASA says otherwise about global warming too. They have been caught cooking the books.
It is an interesting possibility re: the Chicago fire. Blame it on the Irish, or some other cause?
Remember Ponsonby Britt?
A meteor not breaking the sound barrier? Wow that's pretty slow. Something going that slow is not going to glow or burn. She contradicts herself.
To clarify, a meteorite is smaller than a metre in diameter and they are not that rare.
Any one with grade school science knows that size does not determine what makes a metorite. A meteor becomes a meteorite only if it reaches the ground.
Corona Extra and spellingz don’t blendz...;-)
I just took a gander at “The Day the Earth Stood Still” on OVGuide....it’s ok. It just doesn’t have anything worth talking about.
Their, they’re, there! Soon to be replaced by the multi-definitional “Thr.”
Hey! It could happen! After all, “flounder” has come to mean the exact same thing as “founder.”
“Quite a desirable neighborhood for some folk.”
Gary,Indiana & Chicago,Illinois seem to fall into this catagory as well.
However I have yet in my life found a Reason to visit either of them !
I like Chicago, it’s my kind of town!
I don’t *think* I’ve been to Gary...
As to Ponsonby, parking is always an issue, and I really can’t be bothered as a result. “Ponsonby Pies” used to be a great reason to find one’s self in Ponsonby, but since they began shipping their product to gas stations everywhere, once again why go to Ponsonby?
(Ponsonby Pies are arguably New Zealand’s nicest meat pies — staple food for Kiwis, sorta like hamburgers for Americans)
Isn't meteor damage excluded under the "acts of Zeus" clause?
Meteorites land at room temperature, basically. THe idea that they’re glowing or hot comes from the movies.
Gee, Rocky, wasn't he a television executive producer?
My understanding is that meteorites are usually not hot when they hit. Their time in the atmosphere is too short to heat the internal parts, while the short intense heat ablates the surface away. By the time they hit the tropopause they have slowed down to subsonic speeds and broken apart unless they are huge. Which is not to say a big rock at 600 mph can’t crush a propane tank or something.
Interesting theory. If God can do this once, then He can certainly do it again. There are places on this earth (like San Francisco) where it might not pay to be too close to on Judgment Day. Ponsonby might just be another. So might Rio de Janiero....
Pompeii was no Holy monastery as well....(”thou touchest the mountains and they smoke”)
Pompeii was built next to a volcano that had catastrophically erupted many times before (including in prehistoric times, killing a lot of people.)
Some background for those who don't know the story: kauri is probably the best structural lumber in the world, but the huge trees are so slow-growing that farming it has been impossible. Now that the remaining kauri is ultra-protected, the lumber in Ponsonby would have been originally harvested in the 19th century, when the whole city of San Francisco was built out of it.
Meteors slow down drastically when they hit the atmosphere. Because they contact the atmosphere at very high speed, they get frictionally heated immediately, then rapidly slow down enough to be seen moving slowly, and still glowing.
> Some background for those who don’t know the story: kauri is probably the best structural lumber in the world
Very true! Thanks for that!
Another marvelous thing about Kauri is that it is nearly impervious to water and bugs and it never rots.
Here in New Zealand, from time-to-time, they dig up fallen kauri trees out of the swamps. They have carbon-dated these trees and they are very old: 10,000 years and more is not uncommon. Once it has been dried, this “swamp kauri” is just like new. They make tourist items and furniture out of it. It is a beautiful wood.
Kauri also produces a “gum”, very much like amber. In West Auckland (where I live) during the early part of the 20th Century there was quite an industry digging up kauri gum for export. It is of a very hi quality, and was used for making the finest shellac and violin rosin. The nicest pieces were (and still are) made into jewelry.
Monument to Sir William Ponsonby, d1815, St Paul's Cathedral Crypt, London
Thanks for the post Islander7. I live in the U.P. and found the articles interesting. While bird hunting two years ago I found what appears to be a small meteor impact sight (fresh). I hope to locate the spot in the spring and now have a good GPS to mark such stuff. Have another spot to investigate near my deer blind.
> Monument to Sir William Ponsonby, d1815, St Paul’s Cathedral Crypt, London
An excellent question: he is one of four different Ponsonby’s that may have given their name to the township.
Much of Auckland is named after Victorian heroes: we have a “Wellesley St” for example (Duke of Wellington), as well as “Victoria” and “Albert” streets (fittingly, they intersect!) and a few others.
Good luck! Keep your find secret. Meteorites can be very valuable. You may have found a pot of gold. :-) I hope so.
If you have a metal detector bring it along. Alot of meteorites have iron in them.
Historically though it was the Pompeii era eruptions that are most noted and analyzed of the Vesuvius eruptions...it hit the Roman psyche hard! Pompeii was quite known as a coastal “sin city” of its day.
...Sorry, mate. It’s me New Zealand, stroilian accent, I’m working on it...
...Naw worries mate, my spelling is atrocious, spell check, dictionary and thesarus are always close by. I spend more time checking myself than actually posting...
Ya, it's Wiki.
Yeah, Bullwinkle, but I can't remember what show he did! Let's ask Mr. Peabody. He know everything.