A chunk of ice, ?half the size of a car? fell out of the sky and ripped through the roof of a repair service area at an Acura dealership in Charleston, South Carolina. Authorities say samples of the ice are being tested by state officials, but for now, the source of the ice remains a mystery.
The ice landed about 9 a.m. last Wednesday, just missing a dealership employee and causing $5,000 damage to the roof and damage to a new car, according to St. Andrews Fire Department Captain Ray Gorham. ?It punched through the roof like you punch your hand through a piece of paper,? he says. ?It had to come from high up and had to be traveling at a high rate of speed. It had to be a fairly large piece because it put a 3-foot hole in the roof.?
Acura parts and service manager Mike Huggins had just strolled through the room when the ball of ice dropped with a loud bang. ?Another minute earlier, and I would have been right beneath it,? Huggins says. ?I heard a big explosion, and as soon as I did, some of the roof was lying on the ground.?
At first he thought an air conditioning unit on the roof had exploded, but then noticed the ice on the ground. ?There was a two-and-a-half foot by three-and-a-half piece - a pretty big slab - on the floor, with lots of little chunks,? Huggins says. ?We saved a couple of chunks.?
There was speculation that the ice came from a leaking aircraft toilet that became frozen outside the plane and then fell off, but Huggins says the ice seemed clear and pure. ?It didn?t have an odor, and it was hard as a rock. It looked like a big hunk of ice, some clear and some white, like normal ice would be,? he says.
The Charleston County Sheriff?s Office called in firefighters to determine if the ice contained any hazardous material. They found no trace of a hazard but called Emergency Preparedness Department officials who sent samples to a lab. Gorham says that by the time he and other firefighters saw the ice, much of it had melted and it looked brownish. Huggins says the ice became discolored as it melted and mixed with insulation, asphalt and rocks from the roof.
?I have no clue where it came from,? Gorham says. ?My best guess is that it was from the edge of a meteor.? He checked with FAA officials who told him there was no air traffic in the area at that time. Huggins speculates that the FAA would not disclose the presence of any military aircraft.
?Lots of police and firefighters came by just to have a look because nobody could believe that what was being radioed out had really happened,? says Huggins.
Says Gorham, ? In my 16 years of fire service, it?s the strangest thing I ever saw.?
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