quarta-feira, 18 de abril de 2012

Week 2 in Bantam Lake UFO (or meteorite): reports of dead fish unrelated, 'Smoking Gun' investigating

Dead fish in the water, plans by a “Smoking Gun” group to investigate and questions about the dangers, or not, of meteorites—it’s week two in what is thought of as the Bantam Lake UFO story.

After news broke toward the end of last week that both an unidentified person and an on-duty trooper 10 miles away had seen a glowing green object fall from the sky around 2 a.m. April 9, subsequent reporting revealed that it was most likely a meteorite.

Whatever happened, reports of the incident leaving dead fish in its wake are not true, The Smoking Gun Research Agency (SGRA) of Orange, Conn., is investigating, and a meteorite in the lake is said to pose no threat to anything or anyone.

Bantam Lake Protective Association president Connie Trolle said Monday that she hadn’t heard anything about dead fish at the lake. As for the working theory that a documented meteor shower in the area resulted in a meteorite falling into the lake, she said, “The people that are involved that will check. It could be many different things.”

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) spokesperson Dennis Schain said that there have been reports of dead fish—but not masses of fish. And those reports came in as early as March 21, which is weeks before the UFO (or meteorite) sighting.

“What we’re seeing is what appears to be typical phenomena in a water body such as a lake, exacerbated some by the weather we have been having; the warm weather depletes the oxygen in the water,” said Mr. Schain in a phone interview Tuesday.

Mr. Schain said representatives from the DEEP’s Inland Fisheries Division have been out on the lake a couple of times recently, and have been in touch with residents along the lake.

“We don’t believe it’s anything unusual or anything to be alarmed about. It’s been predominantly sunfish. If it was anything unusual—the effect of anything falling in the lake—it would have more quickly affected a whole variety of species,” said Mr. Schain.

He also addressed the sighting itself by saying that DEEP has been in touch with local officials about it and will follow up on any information that warrants further investigation.

After one story on the sighting was posted last week on the Web site of the New Haven Register, The Smoking Gun Research Agency (SGRA) in Orange, indicated in a comment that it would be investigating.

Smoking Gun director Jon Nowinski said that, based on descriptions from residents, it sounded like a meteorite.

“We’ve spent a couple of days communicating with people by e-mail to gather more information about what people might have seen. We have been speaking to people that have heard things and [there are] a lot of rumblings,” said Mr. Nowinski Monday afternoon. According to its Web site,www.sgra.org, Mr. Nowinski’s group studies the paranormal, metaphysical, and the unexplained.

The Republican American, which first broke the story in last Thursday morning’s paper, reported that a unidentified person driving in Litchfield at about 2 a.m. last Tuesday called State Police to report that a green, glowing object the size of a whale fell from the sky and crashed into Bantam Lake.

What made officials take the report seriously, apparently, is the fact that at the same time, an on-duty state trooper about 10 miles away in Warren called dispatchers to report that something fell out of the sky and landed near Bantam or Morris, according to a story by the Associated Press.

Morris firefighters made several passes up and down the lake in a boat, looking for a possible plane crash, but didn’t find any debris, according to the AP story, which said, “Authorities called off the search, leaving the mystery unsolved.”

Meanwhile, a Bantam Lake Protective Association former president, Robert LaBonne, sent an e-mail to State Sen. Andrew Roraback (R-Goshen) and State Rep. Craig Mine (R-Litchfield), telling the legislators that he had been receiving e-mails from as far away as Florida, asking what is being done to solve the mystery.

Mr. LaBonne said that if the object truly is the size of a whale, it should show up on the bottom of the lake on sonar depth identifying equipment that can be obtained via either the Coast Guard or DEEP.

Last Friday, Morris Fire Chief Joel Skilton said he was inclined to believe that it was a meteorite, a possibility first suggested in a report by WTNH News 8, which said the National Weather Service documented a meteor shower in the area the morning of the incident.

Mr. Skilton was on the scene early Tuesday morning after being dispatched. He said Morris responders launched a boat from the former state boat launch on East Shore Road, and made a pass around the South Bay and then went north on Bantam Lake. There they met up with responders from the Bantam Fire Department on North Shore Road in Bantam.

Mr. LaBonne has also been in contact with the DEEP Commissioner Dan Esty regarding the situation. Mr. Esty said in a reply e-mail to Mr. LaBonne that the DEEP was looking at its options with regard to the matter.

Right now, the group in Orange is pinpointing where people were at the time of the sighting, in trying to narrow things down a bit. This is the first step before the group comes to Litchfield and interviews those with information.

The group has received 10 different reports from Morris and the surrounding area—even as far south as Danbury—regarding last week’s sighting.

Mr. Nowinski said his group is hoping to come to the Litchfield area by Sunday, and hopes that people will meet with them and share first-hand accounts of what they experienced.

“The area of northwestern Connecticut, all the way from New Milford to Torrington—basically the northwest half of Connecticut—has always been a rather active, especially areas around Mohawk Mountain and Route 202,” said Mr. Nowinski.

His group has been in touch with the John J. McCarthy Observatory in New Milford, and everyone’s theory seems to be that it was a meteorite.

The Smoking Gun group has contacted State Police to request audio or written transcripts of the reports as part of creating a timeline and mapping where those offering reports of the incident were located.

Keith Cudworth, executive director of White Memorial Conservation Center in Litchfield, whose 4,000 acres of nature preserves border Bantam Lake in part, said they have gotten a few phone calls, and that there were people walking around North Shore Road and Point Folly campground.

Ruben Garcia, who was contacted by Mr. LaBonne and is also known as “Mr. Meteorite,” said in a phone interview Tuesday that typically meteorites are non-toxic, and that the impact on the lake depends on the size of the object.

“I have been hunting meteorites for 15 years. I cut them, they are not toxic,” said Mr. Garcia.

According to Mr. Garcia, they are not radioactive and not dangerous in any way.

Mr. Garcia said that a meteor that produces 20-pound meteorites would lead to a huge sound, like a detonation. “It will explode and it is very loud. People have said it sounds like a train going through their yard,” said Mr. Garcia.

The Hartford Courant reports that another Connecticut town, Wethersfield is one of only two U.S. towns known to have been hit by meteorites twice, the other being Honolulu.

 The New Haven Register, local news, sports and weather serving New Haven, CT

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