Oregon meteor

Patrick Story says the burned patch in the front yard of his Southeast Portland home lines up with a singed portion of a nearby bush.
A Southeast Portland man thinks a meteor might have caused a mystery fire in his front yard.

Patrick Story says he heard a loud boom outside his house on Wednesday night, coupled with a flash of light.

When he went outside, he found part of his front yard on fire in the shape of a circle.

Firefighters told him the fire was "naturally-caused," however they couldn't find any fragments. Story thinks it was a fallen meteorite.

"Because the bush was set on fire, you can kind of think there was a trajectory of something flying through the air," said Story. "Since it was the night of the Perseid Meteor Shower... you got to wonder."

Oregon meteor 2
Astronomers say meteorite strikes happen five to ten times a year, but mostly in the ocean or remote places of the earth.

So we asked the experts - could this fire have started from outer space?

"I don't think so," said Dick Pugh, a Field Scientist for PSU's Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory. "The Perseid Meteor Shower is comet dust. Rarely is one of those bigger than a bb and they don't make it down."

Pugh says there's actually no verified time of a meteorite ever starting a fire; in part because they're simply too cold. The space rocks and dust have been wandering around in 300 below zero. When they land, he says, sometimes they still have ice on them.

How can you tell if you might actually have a meteorite? It'll look like a rock, but it will be slightly attracted to a magnet.