Investigators and fire officials in New Hampshire are looking into the possibility that a meteor may have started a brush fire that has currently burned through about 50 acres in the White Mountains.
Near the opening of the Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves, officials are using a parking lot as a base for their operations. The sky is filled with smoke as firefighters have been working to put out the fire for almost 32 hours.
Early Tuesday morning around 6, fire officials received calls reporting a small brush fire. It quickly spread, and is now covering an estimated 50 acres of land.
Though the cause is still under investigation, Woodstock Fire Chief John Mackay told WBZ-TV a man walking through the area Wednesday told them he saw something–possibly a meteor–hit the side of the mountain while he was driving by the night before.
“He swears that something come out of the sky and hit the side of the mountain where the fire is,” Chief Mackay said. “We can’t confirm it or deny it, we just took his word. We don’t know if that is the cause.”
Mackay said it had been about 12 or 15 years since the last mountain forest fire in the area, and fighting fires of this type were very difficult.
“The terrain is unbelievable, and we’re in a lot of pine and spruce that ignites quickly, and goes all the way up the tree,” he said. “It’s just tough going with the rocky material and rockslides, trees coming down. The elevation is just hard on the guys.”
He said two helicopters had joined in the fight, as well as a National Guard aircraft that was capable of dumping 600 gallons of water.
The fires closed nearby Lost River Gorge on Tuesday, but they were open again Wednesday morning.
“It’s close to Lost River Gorge, but we have lines stretched out and pumps just in case it wants to come this way, but right now it’s no big threat to that building,” Mackay said.
The nature preserve posted on their Facebook page to thank local firefighters.
Chief Mackay said he’s not even sure they could actually determine if a meteor was the cause.
“I don’t know if I would know the difference or not, I don’t know what a meteor looks like, I’ve never seen one,” he said. “Maybe if we found a point of impact we could, but right now we cannot say that it was a meteor.”
Possible meteor strike aside, the chief expects the fire to be contained by Thursday.