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Still no answer to explain late night boom heard 'round the North Peace

If nothing else, the sound of a loud boom and subsequent shaking heard and felt 'round the North Peace Wednesday, Oct. 18, may go down in history alongside all the other unexplained phenomena recorded here over the decades.
shakeout

If nothing else, the sound of a loud boom and subsequent shaking heard and felt 'round the North Peace Wednesday, Oct. 18, may go down in history alongside all the other unexplained phenomena recorded here over the decades.

The experts are still scratching their heads over what exactly residents in and around Fort St. John and Charlie Lake heard and felt—though they have ruled out blaming an earthquake, Site C, and other electrical infrastructure and weather.

"The mystery continues," said BC Hydro spokesman Bob Gammer, who ruled out both a blown electrical transformer or demolitions works at Site C as being the source of the ruckus.

Social networking pages lit up after a loud boom was heard between 10:30 and 11 p.m. Some reported feeling heavy shaking of their homes, many of them in Charlie Lake.

"In Shady acres felt like something in our home exploded or outside our house," Lenfesty Claudene wrote on Facebook. 

"Im 108th Street. I thought something hit my house as well. Even went outside to look around it!" said Desi-Lou Savage.

Noted Geoff Bough: "Out on Sunset Ridge, heard a boom and the house shook at the same time, making me thing something happened close by since the sound and vibration were so close together."

No major seismic events were recorded or have been reported by either Natural Resources Canada or the BC Oil and Gas Commission.

Despite an erroneous media report that the nearest seismic monitoring station to Northeast B.C. is in Dease Lake, the OGC notes it has worked with Natural Resources Canada, GeoscienceBC and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers to establish 11 monitoring stations in this region because of industrial activity. 

That said, seismic events were recorded along the West Coast last night—including a 4.6-magnitude quake southwest of Anchorage, Alaska, near Cook Inlet. A 1.9-magnitude event was recorded near Haida Gwaii. But those events wouldn't be felt in Fort St. John.

Camille Brillon, a seismic analyst with Natural Resources Canada, said there was no earthquake or other seismic event in the region that could have been felt, according to the agency's records.

"The event in Alaska is too small for you guys to have felt as well," Brillon said. "We can't really comment on what it was everybody reported feeling, but hopefully someone will come forward."

While Peace River Hydro Partners does use the Wuthrich quarry off the 271 Road in between Fort St. John and Charlie Lake, Gammer says no blasting works are ongoing there. 

There were, however, two blasting events Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon as PRHP continues south bank tunnel work, he said.

"One small blast occurred yesterday at 7:00 p.m. and one small blast occurred today at 1:20 p.m.," Gammer said.

"PRHP is not currently blasting at Wuthrich Quarry. It’s also important to emphasize that all blasting is carefully monitored and is designed to fall within acceptable parameters."

"Haven’t heard anything yet," said OGC spokesman Phil Rygg.

Meanwhile, the Fort St. John fire department received around a half dozen calls about the boom well after the fact, Chief Fred Burrows says. The matter is not something his department is investigating.

Fort St. John RCMP also received reports of the event, but could offer no answers.

Perhaps it was thunder, as some residents wondered?

Likely not, according to Environment Canada meteorologist Alyssa Charbonneau. No lightning was recorded in the region last night, and instances of thunder are not monitored or recorded. 

"We have no insight into whatever mysterious boom occurred last night," she said.

Some, like Vadim Stolyarov in Dawson Creek, reported seeing a flash of light in the sky at the time of the noise.

"I watched it from my deck in Dawson Creek," Stolyarov told CBC Daybreak North.

"A rather large piece of 'something' burned up in the atmosphere NNW of town which prompted me to say 'hmmm that's a big shooting star' and I made a wish."

That could be the closest answer residents get. 

Ken Tapping, an astronomer at the National Research Council of Canada, told CBC what residents felt and heard was "consistent" with a meteor.

"It wouldn't have to be very big," Tapping told the news agency. "Maybe a large soccer ball."
 
"It's moving much, much faster than sound ... and forms these great big shock waves that form the sonic boom when you hear them, and then finally when it goes unstable and explodes, and you get another big bang."
 
editor@ahnfsj.ca