spaceSpace and Physics

Farmer Claims Fiery Meteorite Destroyed His House In California

Just before the fire broke out, local residents reported seeing a flaming ball in the sky.


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

Perseid Meteor Shower flies over Joshua Tree National Park in California.
Meteors fly over Joshua Tree National Park in California. Image credit: kesterhu/

A man living in rural California believes that his house was burnt down after it was struck by a flaming meteorite that crashed to Earth. Bear in mind that the chances of this happening are astronomically slim – but not impossible.

In California’s Nevada County, the house of cattle farmer Dustin Procita burst into flames on Friday night, according to television news station KCRA.


"I heard a big bang. I started to smell smoke and I went onto my porch and it was completely engulfed in flames," Procita told the local news. 

Meanwhile, several dashcams from the area captured a ball of light descending from the night sky around the time the fire broke out. 

While the two events have not yet been officially linked, Procita and many folks in his town believe the fireball sparked the housefire. 

"I did not see what it was, but from everybody I have talked to: a 'flaming ball' falling from the sky landing in that general area,” said Procita.


"I had one individual tell me about it first and like, okay, I'll put that in the back of my mind. But then more people   two, three, or four more started coming in and talking about it," added Captain Josh Miller from the Penn Valley Fire Department.

So, if this speculation is true, what are the chances of this occurring? 

It’s estimated that the vast majority of meteors (somewhere between 90 and 95 percent) completely burn up when they crash into Earth’s atmosphere, generating a huge amount of heat and creating a bright streak in the night sky.

Estimates vary regarding how many meteorites reach Earth’s surface, but one recent piece of solid research found that about 6,100 meteorites reach the ground yearly, or about 17 each day. Since 71 percent of Earth's surface is water, the majority will land in the seas and ocean, while another fair chunk will land in unhabituated patches of the globe. 


All things considered, the chance of your house being struck by a meteorite is one in 3,921,910,064,328, according to Wired. That means you're far more likely to win the lottery grand prize than have a flaming space ball coming through the roof. 

That seems incredibly unlikely (and it is) but it’s an occurrence that’s been reported before, against the odds. In fact, there’s even a single isolated case of someone being directly hit by a falling meteorite. 

On November 30, 1954, Ann Hodges was taking a nap on her couch in the one-horse town of Oak Grove near Sylacauga, Alabama. Suddenly, a grapefruit-sized meteorite crashed through her ceiling, bounced off her wooden radio, and struck her on her upper hip. Fortunately, the only injury she sustained was a nasty-looking bruise, but it landed her with the unlikely title of the only confirmed person to have been hit by a meteorite in human history.

As for the recent events in Nevada County, it is amazingly unlikely that a meteor did strike the house, but stranger things have happened. 


spaceSpace and Physics
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