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Friday, May 13, 2011

Meteorite(?) hit front lawn...

UPDATED: Officials Believe Meteorite Hit Basking Ridge Lawn
Small meteorite believed to have created a trench in township front yard last Friday morning
By Linda Sadlouskos | May 11, 2011

Township officials believe a small meteorite impacted the front lawn of a township home last Friday morning at about 11:35 a.m., creating a trench and spewing dirt and debris on the lawn, driveway and street near the residence.

The residents were not home at the time, members of the Township Committee said when discussing the event at Tuesday night's meeting, although police later said the homeowner was on the property, but heard nothing. No one was injured, Township Mayor John Malay and other officials said.

The address of the home has not been released. However, Township Committeeman John Carpenter said the home is in the southern end of the township.

An official police report issued on Wednesday said police had responded at about 2:26 p.m. to a report of property damage to a residence located along the Mount Airy Road corridor, south of Lyons Road. Police said they are withholding the address for the privacy of the residents.

Sgt. Scott Ward arrived at the home and observed a hole in the ground at the front of the property, police said. The hole was approximately seven feet long, four feet wide and 18 inches deep, according to the police report.

In addition, dirt and rock debris were strewn approximately 100 feet from the hole, police said. Police said the homeowner stated that he had been home all day and did not see or hear anything that he believed may have caused the hole. The homeowner noticed the hole at about 2:15 p.m., according to police.

Neighboring residents were also questioned and none of those neighbors reported seeing or hearing anything out of the ordinary. The following agencies responded to investigate what may have caused the hole: Liberty Corner fire chief Peter Aprahamian, Public Service Electric & Gas and Jersey Central Power & Light. It was determined that no gas lines or underground electrical wires were in the area and therefore not responsible for creating the trench.

Malay said no trace of a meteorite was found, but the material may have disintegrated upon impact. "It must have been traveling pretty darn fast," he said.

The mayor said a seismograph based at the William Annin Middle School detected an "event" that day at about 11:35 a.m.

In order to rule out the possibility that an explosive device was responsible for creating the hole, the New Jersey State Police Bomb Squad was contacted and responded to the residence. The NJSP Bomb Squad determined that no evidence of an explosive device was present.

Based on tree damage near the hole and media reports of increased meteor shower activity that was present on the morning of May 6, it is believed that the hole may have been caused by a meteorite.

Officials expressed relief that the flying object did not hit a house, or injure anyone.
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