Witnesses across Southern California say they saw an object 'moving very fast across the northern sky' and falling near the San Bernardino Mountains. Officials have no firm answers on what it was.

Mystery Fireball
©LA Times

From Hollywood Hills to the Nevada state line, people reported seeing a fireball streaking across the sky and falling near the San Bernardino Mountains this morning. But explanations of the mysterious object were scarce.

San Bernardino County Fire Dispatch reported receiving dozens of calls related to what was described as fireball moving at high speed and falling in northwest sky around 10:40 a.m.

"We got quite a few reports. It started with a gentlemen in the Lake Arrowhead reporting a fireball in the Meadow Bay area and then we started getting calls from all over," said San Bernardino County dispatch supervisor Tom Barnes. "Fire crews in Barstow and on I-15 near Stateline came up on the radio and reported an object in the sky moving very fast across the northern sky and described it as yellowish green in color with streaks of debris. It looked like it burned up before it hit the ground."

Barnes said the department has "basically determined it was most likely not an aircraft and was probably man-made or a meteor entering the Earth's atmosphere."

Meteors and meteorities are small rocky fragments of other planetary bodies that fall to Earth. A fireball is one of a most common class of meteor, named because they are bright, streaming orbs. They decelerate from 60,000 mph to 200 mph and often fall to earth or don't survive the journey.

Some very bright fireballs can be seen in the day, experts say. Studies have indicated that about 25 meteorities weighing more than fifth of a pound fall on an area the size of California annually. Caltech experts say about 300 to 400 larger meteorites fell in California during the last century.

John Haire, chief of media relations for Edwards Air Force Base, said the base did not conduct any tests and he knew nothing about the event. "I thinks some people have been watching too much "X-Files," he said, referring to the popular show about FBI agents investigating phenomena that had no conventional explanation.

Most of the reports were in Riverside and San Bernardino, but a few people reported seeing the fireball as far west as the Hollywood Hills.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the FAA had no reports of any missing or down aircraft and the military had not informed the agency of any problems with aircraft or missiles.

The Barstow Fire Protection District dispatched firefighters to near the town of Calico but found no evidence of a meteorite or anything else hitting the ground, officials said.

On rimoftheworld.net, which covers the San Bernardino mountain area, those monitoring local rescue aircraft frequencies reported hearing a fire attack plane detect an emergency beacon near Butler Peak in the Big Bear area. But no signs of any downed aircraft were found.