Firefighter’s Maryland Meteorite Report Looks Like a False Alarm

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Not a crater.
Not a crater.

A weekend brush fire in Bowie normally wouldn’t warrant too much attention. But when you mention the word meteorite, everyone gets a little excited at the cosmic possibilities.

That was Sunday’s lesson for the person manning the Twitter account at the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department. After responding to a brush fire in the wooded area of White Marsh Park, BVFD sent out a 140-character missive suggesting that Maryland may have been the scene of a meteorite strike, with a crater and a rock to show for it:

The tweet triggered plenty of stories. But by Monday, the department was changing the official line. Turns out it’s NOT a meteorite strike, Chief Jonathan Howard said in a blog post.

“A tweet was sent out using the official department twitter account that insinuated that there was a relationship between a meteorite and the cause of fire,” Howard wrote. “This was simply not so and the post should have never been made listing a cause.”

But the story is now on the Internet, so it might prove tough to fully extinguish. A little more science may be needed to fully convince us that this isn’t some sort of cover-up.

For their part, WTOP called up NASA scientist Mike Kelley. He said that meteorites “on a small scale do not start fires,” because they aren’t hot enough when they reach the ground.


His method of addressing the rock found at the bottom of the “crater” indicates he is prepared to counter the skeptics with a zen-like calm and wisdom:

“Yes, there’s a rock at the bottom, but if you dig down four feet to the left, will you see another rock?”

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