Subj: Seattle fireball
Date: 8/3/00 8:22:09 PM Pacific Daylight Time

August 1, 2000, 08:30 AM

SEATTLE – A fireball from a disintegrating meteor caused brilliant, colorful flashes that were reported over parts of northern Washington state and Vancouver Island early Monday, an astronomer says.

KING 5 received many phone calls, asking about the red, white and green flares.

Fireballs are "really bright meteors," said Jeremy Tatum, an astronomer at the University of Victoria.

As a meteor speeds to earth, friction with the outer atmosphere causes it to glow with heat and explode in flashes that are visible to the naked eye. The flashes can be any color but are often green, Tatum said.

He said he believes the fireball early Monday exploded off the west coast of Vancouver Island and is interviewing witnesses to get a better fix on the location.

"It's very interesting if we can find the meteorite, but we don't know for certain that a meteorite did land and whether it landed on land or sea," he said. "If we find one, we'll examine it and see what it's made of."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.