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Mysterious explosion and daylight fireball in Nevada, California skies (+video)

A loud explosion and a streak of light occurred over roughly a 600-mile line across Nevada and California. It was probably a meteor, say astronomers.

By Martin GriffithAssociated Press / April 23, 2012

This black and white photo from a rooftop webcam released Thursday, April 15, 2010, by the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences shows a fireball as it passed over Madison, Wis. Scientists say it's likely a similar meteor flew over parts of northern California and Nevada Sunday morning.

(AP Photo/University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences)

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Reno, Nevada

A loud explosion heard across much of Nevada and California on Sunday morning rattled homes and prompted a flood of calls to law enforcement agencies on both sides of the Sierra Nevada, some reporting fireball sightings.

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The sound and the light show were likely caused by a meteor that entered Earth's atmosphere, astronomers said.

"It made the shades in my room shake hard enough to slam into the window a couple times," said Nicole Carlsen of the Reno area. "I kept looking for earthquake information, but (there was) nothing. I even checked the front of my house to make sure no one ran into the garage. I wish I had seen the meteor."

Erin Girard-Hudson of Arnold, Calif., told The Union Democrat of Sonora, Calif., that the loud boom that occurred around 8 a.m. made her 2-year-old daughter, Elsie, cry.

"It knocked me off my feet and was shaking the house," she said. "It sounded like it was next door."

No damages or injuries were immediately reported. There were no reports of earthquakes at the time.

Some people reported seeing a brilliant light streak across the sky at the same time. Sightings occurred over roughly a 600-mile line across the two states, including Reno, Elko and North Las Vegas in Nevada, and the San Francisco, Sacramento and Bakersfield areas in California.

Astronomers said they believe the mysterious light was a fireball, which is a very bright meteor. It will take time to determine the path of the fireball and where it broke up, they added.

"From the reports, I have no doubt it was a fireball," said Robert Lunsford of the Geneseo, N.Y.-based American Meteor Society. "It happens all the time, but most are in daytime and are missed. This one was extraordinarily bright in the daylight."

Lunsford said it's "pretty rare" for fireballs to produce a loud explosion. For that to happen, he explained, the meteor must have survived intact until breaking up about five miles above Earth. Most fireballs are visible at 50 miles above Earth.

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