|By Clyde Lewis
On July 4th, 2004 during a very stormy evening , residents of Casselberry Florida braced themselves for something they thought was going to wipe them out. It was a large bright ball of fire that roared through Seminole County. Witnesses say that it fell to the ground. With all the storm activity in the area it could have been dismissed as lightning, With all of the fireball activity happening it could be dismissed as an extra large meteor. Some people are willing to believe that it was neither.
In Northwest Georgia, about 12 miles south of Chatsworth off US 411, there is a recreation area called Carter’s Lake. The lake provides many recreational opportunities, including boating, swimming, camping, hiking, and fishing. On the evening of July 4th, 2004, a group of campers decided to go out and do a little night fishing.
One of the fishermen was startled when he looked up and saw what he thought was a UFO. It shot across the sky to the south and left a trail of fire behind in its wake. One of the other fishermen thought that whatever it was, it was about to crash, and they braced for impact. The fireball then changed course and went into a huge thunderhead.
It disappeared without a sound.
Nearly six hundred miles to the southeast a summer thunderstorm was rolling in over Seminole County in central Florida. This type of weather is nothing abnormal during the hot Florida summers, and loud thunder always accompanies the streaks of lightning that scratch the sky.
The surrounding parks were trying to find windows in the clouds to set off their fireworks. Showers of colorful, fiery flowers filled the skies competing with the lightning and the thunder.
Around 9:00 P.M. EDT, the residents of Casselberry, Florida, heard a series of unbelievable explosions that shook their homes and knocked pictures off of the walls. The sound was described as large explosions, like the backfiring of an automobile, or cannon fire firing in a sequence of four to five booms.
Those who were unlucky enough to be outside say that what they saw was a huge sheet of bright light. people were calling the police from Oviedo, Maitland, Longwood, and Casselberry, saying that they saw a huge fireball and heard a series of large explosions.
The explosions were not typical of thunder. Many residents claimed that the explosions lasted for at least 5 seconds and that windows rattled, some even blown out by what some people are calling a concussion wave.
The light was described as unbearable; it was reportedly comparable to an arc welder’s torch making the darkness lighter than noonday. The local authorities reported that "ground zero" for the event was situated between Longview and Casselberry near State Road 434.
This seems to be another case in a series of reports, which we have been recording since early June, when a large meteor was seen bulleting through the skies over Snohomish in the early morning hours of June 3rd, 2004. The characteristics of the case in the Northwest are similar to the case in Florida, except that there were many more witnesses to this event.
While local police tried everything from fireworks displays to lightning to explain away the explosion, this did not satisfy local residents, who told news reporters that while thunderstorms are common and that fireworks displays were going on at the time, this incident was none of those things, and many thought it was something more.
The Internet astronomy newsgroups buzzed with eyewitness accounts of what really happened.
"Sitting at the table with family, friends, Sunday, July Fourth, 2004, North of Casselberry, Florida, 2 miles East of Highway 436, at approximately 8 p.m.
There was a huge electrical tropical storm that had just passed through, and the thunder was fading to about 6 miles South West, towards Cape Canaveral Space Center, located on the East coast about 60 miles away.
Suddenly the skies grew golden, not the whitish glow of lightning, but almost as bright! A loud BOOM rattled the glass in all the windows. We physically felt the boom!"—Reported in Google News
Soon many forums and weblogs announced that something had fallen from the sky, creating an unbelievable explosion that rattled homes and nerves:
"My fiancée and I were sitting in our home office browsing the Internet (the room lights were all off) and our room literally lit up for about 2 full seconds in a bright yellowish color. It was a strange color, not what I expected to see during the lightning storm since normally the color of lightning is more white.
We both cringed for a minute expecting to hear a really loud boom from a close lightning strike. Given how bright the light was, I was expecting to hear a Thunder roll within about 1-3 seconds. It was so odd because we didn't hear any noises for about 15-20 seconds and all of a sudden it was a steady loud BOOM that lasted for about 15-20 seconds!! To compare the booms ,to something other Florida residents might be familiar with... it was just as loud of a boom as the space shuttle breaking the sound barrier when it reenters our atmosphere. Except it wasn't 2 equally spaced out booms like the shuttle produces, it was one really long one.
We literally ran outside and the boom was still going on!!! All the neighbors came running outside and we were all just in shock. None of us had ever heard anything like that. Of course it was 4th of July night, and a lightning storm was still passing through so after about 5 minutes of us all standing around saying "I can't believe how loud and bright that was"... we all went back inside. I looked on the local news and no one reported anything so we figured maybe it really was just incredible lightning, because CERTAINLY something so phenomenal would have been reported to the stations if it wasn't lightning.
The strange part is, nothing was reported on the local news -- at least until July 16th, 2004, when WESH Channel 2 reported that many residents of the area were wondering what had crashed to the ground on July 4th.
The police in the area told the local news that they had found nothing that would indicate that anything had fallen from the skies over Seminole County and local news organizations flew their helicopters over the area searching for any cosmic skid marks such objects might have left behind.
Searchers turned up nothing.
However, Internet reports piled up in inboxes, and some people complained that they were feeling sick to their stomachs, others of asthma-like symptoms.
There was no report of these claims in the local news.
In fact, the Orlando Sentinel has nothing in its archives about what happened. No reports of damage, no reports of any sickness, nothing that would even answer any of the questions about what exactly happened.
This stank to high heaven of a cover-up.
The report on WESH Channel 2 was pretty tame, and came off looking like fluff piece. Casselberry resident Diana Felise was quoted:
"I saw this crazy light, and it was really bright, the entire house was rattling. We thought the pictures were going to fall off the wall."—Diana Felise
After the incident, another blog turned up online. This time it was in the E-bay forums, reporting something huge falling down from the sky near Casselberry. This time, however, it was reported that NASA was on the scene:
"NASA is right down the road from my house working on classified information. After a huge light in the sky and very loud sonic boom, some are sick. I live in Florida in a very small city called Casselberry. On July 4th, at around 7:30 PM, me, my husband and son drove to Cocoa Beach about 1 hr from our house to get some fireworks at the last minute.
When we got back we went over to my parents' house who live right next door to us. My mother and brother were both afraid telling us what had happened.
My brother was in his room and my mom was in the living room. They both said there was a continuous HUGE explosion as if we were being attacked by missiles, followed by a light so bright in the sky that blinded some for seconds after seeing it (this was at night).
My mom said the doors and windows were shaking and it was the scariest thing they had ever seen or felt. Everybody ran outside to see what was happening but there are no answers as to what might have happened.
This only happened in the city of Casselberry,Florida, Nowhere else in Florida, nobody knows about this except Casselberry residents, and now everyone were telling about this.
In the Ground Zero forum a post was placed by a person known as "hhiker" a Florida resident who claimed that a local radio station host was in the area of the impact and was told to stop broadcasting.
"I live near Winter Park, Fl which is about 7 miles away from Casselberry, Fl. The "Boom" rattled the windows of my home. It seemed like there was a power surge that followed. I thought it was a bomb that hit, it was very disturbing caused a bit of a panic for me. Still nothing is being reported on the local news stations. Although one radio station 101.1 real rock "The Buckethead Show" has been trying to figure out what the "Boom" was.
I was also listening to the station when the one radio intern was trying to get information from the "man with the red briefcase", and yes he was told ; Quote: " Get in your van and leave now! "Do Not Return to this area!" and when he asked for Identification that is when the phone went dead.
I wanted to find out if this horror story was really happening, so I phoned up "Real Rock 101.1 in Orlando". I must have called the request line, because I was immediately put on hold. While waiting, I listened to the broadcast. The announcer was indeed named "Buckethead", and while I was on the phone, he was still ranting about the events on July 4th. Here it was July 20th, and there were listeners calling and saying that they were sick, or felt weak, and others were still trembling with fear.
Even though it was on a music station, his show sounded like a talk show, with his attempts to console the people who were affected by this strange event.
Buckethead picked up the phone, and I told him who I was. He was surprised that the story had made its way across the continent to the West Coast.
I complimented him on his show. From what I heard during the time I was on hold, "Buckethead" was the consummate professional. I did a background check on him and he is no slouch when it comes to talent and professionalism. His resume includes a few independent films, an appearance in the movie "From Earth To the Moon", a stint with VH-1’s Making the Band, and serving as the announcer for the now-defunct XFL.
The guy has a great resume and is talented. Why would he want to call attention to himself with some strange yarn about UFO’s and exploding meteors? It is stories like these that invite ridicule. But there he was on the air, still talking about the incident. He invited me on his program and I told him about the investigations that Ground Zero had been doing under the direction of Thunderbolts.info.
I told him that fireballs have recently been seen all over the world, and that just last week we were told that Egypt had been hit by a number of meteorites that had ignited fires and caused electrical disturbances. I mentioned, as well, reports of children who were having trouble breathing, some having been burned in the skyfall.
In a News report dated July 15th, 2004, many villages in a province called Sohag, located in southern were being hit with meteors. It was estimated that about 100 homes had burned to the ground, while other homes near the area of severe impact were experiencing overloaded circuits and electrical failures.
There were some skeptics who suggested that the blaze could be attributed to pigeons flying into power lines and catching fire, which was a popular theory until huge explosion of white-yellow light was reported from the city of Palensija. The rain of fire had persisted for three days, leaving two children dead and, again, others suffering from burns and complaining of asthma-like conditions.
I reported to Buckethead's listeners that prior to the incident in Egypt, and 3 days after the incident in Seminole County, a large ball of fire was seen over five states in the South. The National Weather Service and media outlets received numerous reports of huge fireballs in the sky on Wednesday, July 7th, 2004. The lights flashed across the sky shortly after 9 p.m., and were visible in portions of Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Tennessee.
Buckethead told me that he had heard of the explosion on Sunday, and returned to his Monday evening shift to find the phone banks full, buzzing about what was happening in the area near Dog Track Road in Casselberry, Florida.
Listeners had phoned in to tell him that investigators in black Humvees were on the scene of a construction site, telling the workers to shut down the operation. Later they reported that people from NASA were combing the area. Buckethead decided that he should send Crumpet, his British intern, out to the area of impact to experience true in-the-trenches journalism.
Crumpet, armed with a cell phone and the station van had set out to learn what the townspeople had witnessed. Many of them were eager to talk with the intern. What they had seen, they claimed, was no meteor. Some suggested that it might have been a UFO, or space junk, or extraterrestrials.
While some of the ET comments seemed tongue-in-cheek, there were serious accounts of people who were sick to their stomachs. One man said he had been so sick that he wasn’t able to spend enough time with his girlfriend, causing her to break up with him. There was also the story of a young man whose hair was falling out after the incident.
Crumpet continued to gather information until he saw a man moving about the site, carrying a red suitcase at the site, posting danger signs around an area that was fenced off to keep unwanted spectators at bay.
After collecting several more testimonies, including one from a girl who said that she lost a lot of weight after being sick, Crumpet told Buckethead that the man with the red suitcase was approaching him. The man's voice was very clear on the air, demanding that he stop his broadcast. Crumpet asked the man for his credentials… and suddenly, his phone went dead.
Whatever happened in Florida was not being reported fairly in the mainstream. It was almost certainly being kept a secret by investigators and by people possibly affiliated with NASA.
On July 5th, one day after the Florida event happened, George Noory, host of Coast To Coast AM, brought self-proclaimed "Bad Astronomer" Phil Plait on the air to talk about tall tales of large meteors hitting the earth, discussing the "Aussie Bloke" hoax as if it hadn't been on the Internet for weeks.
It seemed an unfortunate synchronicity.
Listening to the program, I got the impression that Mr. Noory was oblivious to all of the near-earth activity that had been going on in June and July. This night's debacle seemed like a deepening chasm of misinformed nonsense and embarrassing word salad. The sanctimonious Phil Plait fancies himself as some omnipotent "know it all" about astronomy and NASA. He blathered on unchallenged by Noory, who was pretending to know all there was to know about "Aussie Bloke" It was obvious, though, that he had either read a "Cliff’s Notes" version or not followed the story at all.
You may remember that in my article, "Snowball's Epilogue: Remembering the End of the World", that a man called "Aussie Bloke", who claimed to be an Australian scientist, posted doomsday scenarios featuring a series of meteor impacts that would end in June with an "extinction level" event.
Of course his predictions did not come true. However, there is one thing that happened that did come true -- space weather had become more violent, and Mother Nature was putting on quite a light show all over the world, meteors raining down from the sky.
Unfortunately, the 400 or so stations that carry Noory’s broadcast were given a fistful of disinformation. Plait embarrassed himself by being smug and snobbish about "Aussie Bloke", acting as though he were the first to break and debunk a story that had already been exposed elsewhere as a hoax days before.
Plait and Noory had allowed the "Aussie Bloke" hoax to cloud the reality of these meteors, despite mounds of evidence supporting the reports from June. One fireball, which fell in a remote area of Australia on June 20th, was reported to be the size of a house.
It appeared, as always, that Plait’s notoriety as a walking "bullshit detector" was the reason for his appearance on Coast to Coast. The interview was intended to dissolve any panic about possible meteors hitting the earth, and dispel suggestions that NASA would ever cover up something this big happening in the sky.
"I can't imagine why they (NASA) would want to keep this a secret. If there was nothing they could… (pause) If there's something they can do, like launch a rocket or something to try and blow it up, and they keep it secret, and then they blow it up…you know people would notice. And then they'd have to announce, well, we didn't want to tell people. Well, you know, that's not going to work so well; there's going to be a pretty big vote of no-confidence in the president if something like that happens." –Phil Plait speaking to George Noory on Coast to Coast AM, July 5th, 2004.
Meanwhile, people in Casselberry, Florida, which is, ironically enough, about an hour away from Cape Canaveral, were being told the local Barney Fifes to stay in their homes while men in Humvees and other investigators from NASA combed the area for possible debris.
Keep in mind that Plait does not work for NASA; his biggest claims to fame are discrediting paper tigers like Bart Sibrel, Richard Hoagland, and James McCanney. He also likes to sic his yap dog followers on me about an article that I once wrote, speculating about the possibility that man never landed on the moon -- an article written long before the Fox Network made it popular to suggest NASA had perpetuated a hoax.
His credentials are somewhat impressive, yet he shies away from public debates with those whom he calls "junk scientists". He is an impressive keyboard commando who loves to post astro-smack about his crank du jour on his website "Bad Astronomy.com"
After listening to him on Coast to Coast that night, I can see why Plait should consider staying off the air entirely, and return to working on his science fair projects at Sonoma State University.
It has been my experience that cases such as the one in Florida are always reported and immediately dismissed by those who call themselves skeptics. However, most of these so called skeptics seldom do the footwork required to be a qualified spokesperson for the said case.
That is not to say that the theories of what happened in Florida are conclusive. Hysteria can generate all kinds of stories that may warp the story into becoming something that it isn't.
At the moment the eyewitness accounts of what happened are not yielding any answers. We should not ignore the work of Buckethead or any of the eyewitness accounts connected to the case.
Skeptics like Plait say that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Well, that works for skeptics but it has a hard time playing in objective reality. To assume that witnesses an investigators are looking for an outrageous explanation is defeating the purpose of investigation. To discredit eyeitnees accounts because their stories wind up in an Urban legends website is equally silly.
I always wonder how a man and wife who started a website up as a hobby are authorities on any story that passes through their filter? Not that their research isn't worthy of a glance but it should not be used as tool to dismiss the story completely. All stories have a seed and in order to find it, one has to dig deep.
Eyewitness accounts are anecdotal evidence. There have been many of them with this particular case and their stories seem to be consistent. The times of the incident vary from 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM. There are many who have claimed to have seen investigators and official vehicles in the area.
Some have said that NASA had investigated.
There has been an inordinate amount of larger than average fireballs being spotted plummeting to earth. Many explode before they hit the earth.
Sometimes smoking gun evidence takes time to find. In the case of fireballs being spotted on June 5th, 2004 over California, Ground Zero had a report of a broadcast on KFI radio, then we received a recording of the broadcast, even after the program director denied that the report had been made.
We received another account of a fireball falling over Redondo Beach California.
Now a strange pock marked rock with copper freckles has been found in the parking lot of a Redondo Beach Motel. The Motel is coincidentally named the Starlite Motel.
An extraordinary story, with extraordinary evidence at a place named The Starlite Motel.
An extraordinary coincidence.
Take that skeptics!
Copyright 1998-2007 Ground Zero Media, Clyde Lewis, and John Hart. All Rights Reserved.