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Fire at Auckland Warehouse Caused by Meteorite Impact? (Update)
AstroEngine ^ | 12/15/08 | Ian O'Neill

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 we’ll 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, we’ll 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 isn’t 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 don’t know, but I doubt the fire investigator’s 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, I’ll update this article with news as I get it.

Updates:

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 didn’t 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 I’ll credit you in this article. Thanks!

Source: NZ Herald


TOPICS: Australia/New Zealand; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: auckland; fire; meteorite; newzealand

1 posted on 12/14/2008 11:06:10 PM PST by LibWhacker
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To: LibWhacker
SCUD

;^)

2 posted on 12/14/2008 11:08:56 PM PST by Dumpster Baby ((Sigh) Some days, it's just not worth trying to chew through the restraints.)
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To: DieHard the Hunter
PING!!
3 posted on 12/14/2008 11:12:53 PM PST by 2ndDivisionVet (Barack Obama: In Error and arrogant -- he's errogant!)
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To: LibWhacker

THEIR HERE!


4 posted on 12/14/2008 11:14:41 PM PST by Dallas59 (Not My President)
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To: LibWhacker

I bet their insurance policy has an exclusion for fires caused by meteorites.


5 posted on 12/14/2008 11:25:49 PM PST by Nachoman (Think of life as an adventure you don't survive.)
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To: Dallas59

6 posted on 12/14/2008 11:27:26 PM PST by America2012
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Cheers, mate!

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.


7 posted on 12/14/2008 11:27:28 PM PST by DieHard the Hunter (Is mise an ceann-cinnidh. Cha ghéill mi do dhuine. Fàg am bealach.)
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To: Dallas59

...”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...


8 posted on 12/14/2008 11:30:46 PM PST by gargoyle (..."If this be treason, make the most of it.". Patrick Henry...)
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To: gargoyle

Take me with you.


9 posted on 12/14/2008 11:39:51 PM PST by txhurl (somebody just bought 12 Carrier Battle Groups for 600 million dollars)
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To: DieHard the Hunter

...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...


10 posted on 12/14/2008 11:44:25 PM PST by gargoyle (..."If this be treason, make the most of it.". Patrick Henry...)
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To: LibWhacker

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.


11 posted on 12/14/2008 11:49:41 PM PST by LegendHasIt (Freepmail me if you want to join the Precious Metals ping list.)
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To: LegendHasIt

> 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.

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.


12 posted on 12/15/2008 12:23:48 AM PST by DieHard the Hunter (Is mise an ceann-cinnidh. Cha ghéill mi do dhuine. Fàg am bealach.)
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To: LegendHasIt
Could A Meteorite or Comet Cause All The Fires of 1871?

An Upper Peninsula systems design engineer thinks so, as does a former physicist with McDonnell Douglas Corp.

Consider a statement by the Detroit Post on Oct. 10, 1871: "In all parts of the state, as will be noticed by our correspondence during the past few days and also today, there are numerous fires in the wood, in many places approaching so near to towns as to endanger the towns themselves."

In Holland, fire destroyed the city, in Lansing flames threatened the agricultural college and in the Thumb, farmers trying to establish homesteads soon would be diving into shallow wells to escape an inferno some newspapers dubbed: "The Fiery Fiend." Many did not escape.
13 posted on 12/15/2008 12:37:00 AM PST by Islander7 (This Atlas is shrugging! ~ I am Joe!)
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To: txflake

...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...


14 posted on 12/15/2008 12:39:29 AM PST by gargoyle (..."If this be treason, make the most of it.". Patrick Henry...)
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To: Nachoman

We need separate insurances for flood and earthquake, I wounder if this guy is covered?


15 posted on 12/15/2008 12:48:35 AM PST by Steve Van Doorn (*in my best Eric cartman voice* 'I love you guys')
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To: DieHard the Hunter

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)


16 posted on 12/15/2008 12:49:09 AM PST by Global2010 (God Will see us through. Persevere.)
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To: Islander7
NASA says otherwise

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.

17 posted on 12/15/2008 12:53:41 AM PST by LegendHasIt (Freepmail me if you want to join the Precious Metals ping list.)
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To: Global2010

> 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...


18 posted on 12/15/2008 1:01:14 AM PST by DieHard the Hunter (Is mise an ceann-cinnidh. Cha ghéill mi do dhuine. Fàg am bealach.)
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To: LegendHasIt

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?


19 posted on 12/15/2008 1:05:46 AM PST by Islander7 (This Atlas is shrugging! ~ I am Joe!)
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To: LibWhacker

Remember Ponsonby Britt?


20 posted on 12/15/2008 2:48:03 AM PST by Right Wing Assault (What's Obama's Secret?)
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To: LibWhacker
it didn’t seem to break the sound barrier as it entered. It was going very fast and would have been burning at about 2,000 degrees

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.

21 posted on 12/15/2008 3:19:37 AM PST by feedback doctor (The first female president will be a Conservative Republican)
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To: gargoyle

Corona Extra and spellingz don’t blendz...;-)


22 posted on 12/15/2008 3:25:51 AM PST by Dallas59 (Not My President)
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To: gargoyle

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.


23 posted on 12/15/2008 3:27:42 AM PST by Dallas59 (Not My President)
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To: gargoyle

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.”


24 posted on 12/15/2008 4:07:58 AM PST by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ("Don't touch that thing")
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To: DieHard the Hunter

“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 !


25 posted on 12/15/2008 4:09:41 AM PST by CheezyChesster
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To: CheezyChesster

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)


26 posted on 12/15/2008 4:15:02 AM PST by DieHard the Hunter (Is mise an ceann-cinnidh. Cha ghéill mi do dhuine. Fàg am bealach.)
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To: Nachoman
I bet their insurance policy has an exclusion for fires caused by meteorites.

Isn't meteor damage excluded under the "acts of Zeus" clause?

27 posted on 12/15/2008 4:41:55 AM PST by Puddleglum
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To: feedback doctor

Meteorites land at room temperature, basically. THe idea that they’re glowing or hot comes from the movies.


28 posted on 12/15/2008 5:05:12 AM PST by Strategerist
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To: Right Wing Assault
Remember Ponsonby Britt?

Gee, Rocky, wasn't he a television executive producer?

;-)

29 posted on 12/15/2008 5:16:02 AM PST by Jonah Hex ("Never underestimate the hungover side of the Force.")
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To: DieHard the Hunter
Meaterite?


30 posted on 12/15/2008 5:22:13 AM PST by reagan_fanatic (I'll give Obama the same amount of respect the left gave Bush)
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To: LibWhacker

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.


31 posted on 12/15/2008 5:37:08 AM PST by ko_kyi
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To: DieHard the Hunter

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”)


32 posted on 12/15/2008 5:39:49 AM PST by mdmathis6
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To: mdmathis6

Pompeii was built next to a volcano that had catastrophically erupted many times before (including in prehistoric times, killing a lot of people.)


33 posted on 12/15/2008 5:49:36 AM PST by Strategerist
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To: SunkenCiv

Catastrophic!


34 posted on 12/15/2008 6:22:23 AM PST by Fractal Trader
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To: DieHard the Hunter
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.

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.

35 posted on 12/15/2008 6:28:08 AM PST by BlazingArizona
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To: feedback doctor
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.

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.

36 posted on 12/15/2008 6:31:53 AM PST by BlazingArizona
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To: BlazingArizona

> 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.


37 posted on 12/15/2008 6:36:15 AM PST by DieHard the Hunter (Is mise an ceann-cinnidh. Cha ghéill mi do dhuine. Fàg am bealach.)
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To: DieHard the Hunter
Any relation to this Ponsonby?

Monument to Sir William Ponsonby, d1815, St Paul's Cathedral Crypt, London


38 posted on 12/15/2008 7:01:51 AM PST by BenLurkin
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To: Islander7

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.


39 posted on 12/15/2008 7:12:16 AM PST by mcshot (Zero man! Fill out your own employment application for US.)
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To: BenLurkin

> 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.


40 posted on 12/15/2008 7:13:19 AM PST by DieHard the Hunter (Is mise an ceann-cinnidh. Cha ghéill mi do dhuine. Fàg am bealach.)
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To: mcshot

Good luck! Keep your find secret. Meteorites can be very valuable. You may have found a pot of gold. :-) I hope so.


41 posted on 12/15/2008 7:27:50 AM PST by Islander7 (This Atlas is shrugging! ~ I am Joe!)
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To: mcshot

If you have a metal detector bring it along. Alot of meteorites have iron in them.


42 posted on 12/15/2008 8:07:54 AM PST by painter
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To: reagan_fanatic

43 posted on 12/15/2008 8:17:45 AM PST by ErnBatavia ("Zero"..STILL using that stupid "Office of The President Elect" podium....)
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To: Strategerist

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.


44 posted on 12/15/2008 12:28:38 PM PST by mdmathis6
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To: Dallas59

...Sorry, mate. It’s me New Zealand, stroilian accent, I’m working on it...


45 posted on 12/15/2008 3:37:13 PM PST by gargoyle (..."If this be treason, make the most of it.". Patrick Henry...)
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra

...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...


46 posted on 12/15/2008 3:42:38 PM PST by gargoyle (..."If this be treason, make the most of it.". Patrick Henry...)
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To: Islander7
The Great Chicago Fire started in the same timeframe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Chicago_Fire
Ya, it's Wiki.

47 posted on 12/15/2008 3:50:49 PM PST by Carilisa (In the Heart of Big Snow Country)
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To: Jonah Hex
Gee, Rocky, wasn't he a television executive producer?

Yeah, Bullwinkle, but I can't remember what show he did! Let's ask Mr. Peabody. He know everything.

48 posted on 12/15/2008 6:21:19 PM PST by Right Wing Assault (What's Obama's Secret?)
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