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Falling Meteor Creates Brilliant Flash Seen From California to New Mexico
c The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (Oct. 4) - A falling meteor streaked through the skies, creating a brilliant flash that could be seen from California to New Mexico.
''We thought it was a skyrocket,'' said Ignacio Tantajos, a ranger at Los Angeles' sprawling Griffith Park. ''It lit up and came down and that was it.''
The greenish-yellow light Thursday evening ''just blossomed out into something like a flare or a torch flame. It seemed to have little sparkles coming from it,'' said Patricia Dobbins, another witness at Griffith Park.
A television news helicopter pilot said he swerved to avoid what he at first thought was a spotlight from another helicopter.
In New Mexico, Monica Gomez of Eldorado was driving on the highway when she saw it streaking across the sky. ''It was bright. It looked like it was on fire,'' she said. ''It was amazing.''
March Air Reserve Base control tower atmospheric observers said- the meteor, which fell in a westerly direction shortly before 9 p.m.
''This is probably the biggest flash we've seen in two years,'' said John Moseley, an astronomer at the Griffith Park Observatory. ''The meteor was probably a crumbly piece of asteroid, or possibly a fragment of a comet.''
At first, some said it might have been a falling satellite. But the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado Springs, Colo., which tracks satellite debris, said the flash could not have been caused by any items it was following and was likely a meteor or other natural phenomenon.
Meteors are pieces of metallic or stony matter that enter Earth's atmosphere, heating up through friction with air and- creating bright streaks of light popularly called shooting stars or falling stars. They usually burn up before reaching the Earth's surface.
AP-NY-10-04-96 1046EDT