A Mysterious Ball of Fire

Sentinel de Milwaukee (Wisconsin),
s1Clark, J. E.: "ball lightning, New York, 1888", Magonia Exchange, 2008-03-17

New York the Scene of a Strange and Surprising Phenomenon.

NEW YORK, June 27. - A flying ball of fire struck the ground, exploded, and scattered sparks and stones for twenty feet in every direction in East Twenty-fifth street, between Second and Third avenues, yesterday. Workmen engaged on a new building were paralyzed with fear, and would not return to work for some hours. Dwellers in the neighborhood rushed with blanched faces to windows and doors, and pedestrians, who were blinded by the flash of the meteor and stunned by the explosion, fled to sheltering doorways or fell horror-stricken where they stood. No lives were lost. The sky had rapidly cleared after the first severe thunder shower, and about 1:05 P.M. the sun appeared. Almost simultaneously a dazzling brilliant sphere, about two feet in diameter and emitting countless white sparks, was seen in the air, descending rapidly. In its train was a streak of vivid fire like the tail of a comet. The flying fire-ball came in a southwesterly direction, and was first noticed at about the height of the house-tops. It struck in a heap of gravel brick, planks and other building material in the gutter facing 219, and sharp reports like that of a thousand pistol-shots followed. There was a strong smell like that accompanying lightning-strokes, and several persons near received severe electric shocks. Big sparks flew out and the gravel and bricks were scattered. The first of the astounded witnesses of the phenomenon to recover his wits was Engineer Barrett, of engine company 16, who had been standing in the doorway of the engine-house a few feet away. He ran to the spot where the fire-ball had struck and found a two-inch plank, burned and twisted, with a hole as clean as if made with an augur bored completely through it. A half-brick was afterward picked up which had been bored in the same way as the plank, and probably received the first stroke. Mrs. Gordon, Mrs. Riley, and two other women who were at the dinner-table in the basement of 221, saw the ball descending, and aver that after it struck they saw it rebound past their window and up into the air again.