PORTLAND, Ore. – Dozens of residents in the Pacific Northwest (search) reported seeing a bright streak of light as it flashed across the sky, startling witnesses from southern Oregon to the Seattle area, according to officials.
Scientists said the flaming object was probably a meteor, and that it likely disintegrated before any fragments fell into the Pacific Ocean (search).
"It was like a big ball of fire," said Summer Jensen, who was in her living room Saturday night when she saw the flash of light outside her Portland home.
Michael O'Connor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration's (search) regional office in Renton, Wash., said he fielded numerous calls from people reporting they had seen a bright streak across the sky shortly before 8 p.m.
He said police, pilots and some air traffic controllers described it as "a green ball of fire with a long tail."
"It appears to have come down over the ocean," said Dick Pugh of the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory in Portland. He said the object flew over the Pacific Coast, streaking along from south to north.
Jim Todd, planetarium director at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, said that if a meteor had entered the atmosphere during the day, it may not even have been noticed.
"It creates a bright contrast against the night sky," Todd said.
Last year, a meteor that appeared like a fireball was sighted over western Washington state. In March 2003, residents in four Midwestern states also reported seeing a disintegrating meteorite flash across the sky.