Journal GazetteCARMEL– Firefighters investigating reports of an explosion and smoke at a home found nothing but two tennis ball-sized holes in the roof that a research scientist thinks might have been caused by a meteorite.
When firefighters couldn’t find a cause for the Aug. 12 reports, homeowners Mick and Mary Zakrajsek called Nelson Shaffer, a research scientist with the Indiana Geological Survey in Bloomington and author of a book “Indiana Meteorites – Close Encounters from Outer Space.”
He examined the damage but could not find any obvious particles from outer space.
He plans to go back to the house when portions of the roof are torn out during repairs.
“In the history of humanity, there is a handful of times when meteorites fell and hit a building of any sort,” Shaffer said. “But it does happen.”
Firefighters think it did happen at the two-story home in a northern Indianapolis suburb, mainly because they have no better explanation for the holes in the wall and roof.
“Basically, we were clueless at the time as to what it could have been,” said Carmel Fire Lt. Alan Young, whose crew found no fire and finally began to wonder about the origin of the damage.
“I don’t know what meteorite rubble looks like, so I don’t know what I’d be looking for in the first place,” Young said.
Mick Zakrajsek, 48, a financial manager, heard the explosion while out walking in the neighborhood.
His wife likened the sound to a “huge hammer” that pounded the roof and sent her 21-year-old daughter rushing first upstairs and then back down to evacuate the family.
“People were coming from all over, because everybody had heard it,” said Jessica Zakrajsek.
Shaffer has been unable to distinguish between possible meteorite fragments and roofing particles. He hopes tests on materials to be removed during repairs will be more helpful.
“A number of people reported hearing sonic booms. This implies an object going very fast and not something that just fell off an airplane or was thrown off,” Shaffer said.
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