West Kelowna  

Cause of mysterious fireball that sparked blaze in Peachland unknown

Mystery fireball sparks blaze

UPDATE 12:35 p.m.

The cause of the fire behind Jackie Wilson’s Peachland home Tuesday night will go down, officially, as undetermined.

But multiple witnesses and a video sent to Castanet shows a ball of fire coming down from the sky, landing in a yard on Ponderosa Drive, and sparking a fire at roughly 9 p.m.

Brush and grass on the steep slope ignited into a large fire, singeing the deck of the home before fire crews' quick action saved the residence.

“If it was the middle of the night and the fellow down below hadn’t seen the fire and reported it, who knows what would have happened,” said Wilson.

“We have propane tanks and a BBQ on the deck and if it had reached there it would have been really serious.”

The Peachland Fire Department says with the amount of water they threw at the fire, any evidence of whatever came out of the sky is likely long gone.

Fire chief Dennis Craig said they were unsure of what caused the fire initially until they viewed the video and heard that the person that called the fire witnessed the fireball fall from the sky.

“It is going to go down as undetermined in our books… until we find that solid piece of evidence,” Craig said.

“But right now, I’m not a scientist or geologist, but I would probably tend more to lean towards a sky lantern as a potential cause,” he said.

He said they know it was not a flare or firework, as both look much different than what was captured in the video.

Research has also shown that meteorites are typically cold when they hit the earth and don’t combust on impact. A piece of metal space junk is also a possibility.

Wilson, meanwhile, has high praises for the fire department.

“They were amazing, and they stayed for a long time to make sure everything was out and the hotspots were all done. They did an amazing job.”

UPDATE: MARCH 17, 8:50 a.m.

The cause of a fire at a home on Ponderosa Drive and 2nd Avenue in Peachland will officially go down as undetermined.

However, Peachland Fire Chief Dennis Craig says he can't rule out the possibility it was sparked by a falling meteorite or space junk.

I'm not an astrophysicist, he told Castanet News Wednesday morning.

Craig says crews were able to douse the fire, which sparked in a backyard near a deck quickly, limiting the damage to some siding on the home.

He described it as a quick moving grass fire.

Just before the fire sparked, Jay Balehowsky noticed a bright object in the sky. He told Castanet a piece broke off and fell in the neighbours yard.

Video shows the object breaking apart.

Craig says fire investigators will return to the scene later today.

ORIGINAL: MARCH 16, 9:35 p.m.

It would appear debris from space sparked a fire in the backyard of a home in Peachland Tuesday evening.

Jay Balehowsky, who lives just off Ponderosa Drive says he saw the object in the sky around 9 p.m.

"It broke up, and a piece fell in the yard across the street," he told Castanet News.

The object sparked a fire within a few feet of the deck of a home on Ponderosa.

The fire department responded quickly and extinguished the blaze.

It's unclear if the fire extended to the home, however, pictures taken from the street above show plumes of smoke and what appear to be sparks flying high into the air.

No word on the extent of damage.

Castanet will update as more information becomes available.

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