June 21, 2012 9:05 AM
Meteor reports ground Colo. firefighting planes
BELLVUE, Colo. — Authorities grounded firefighting aircraft battling an out-of-control blaze scorching central Colorado on Wednesday, reacting with caution to witness reports of meteor sightings.
The temporary move came amid several reported sky sightings near the fire burning 1,100 acres, or nearly 2 square miles, west of Colorado Springs.
Chaffee County Sheriff W. Peter Palmer said his office received multiple reports, including one person who thought a meteorite might have landed in a wooded area north of Buena Vista. Palmer said officials could not confirm that report.
Meanwhile, the crew of a heavy air tanker spotted something while making a slurry run on the blaze, said Steve Segin, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.
"They weren't sure what it was," Segin said, confirming the report of a possible meteor shower.
"They landed as they normally do to reload, and for safety reasons they grounded themselves until they could figure out what it was they saw," he said.
The Colorado sightings corresponded with reports of a possible meteor filed by the crews of two commercial aircraft over Liberal, Kan., said meteorologist Scott Entrekin of the National Weather Service in Boulder.