A blast that rocked an Orange County neighborhood Monday night wasn't caused by some intergalactic visitor, such as a meteor from outer space.
Turns out the cause was less "Independence Day" and more of an Independence Day type of salute.
The Orange County Sheriff's Department bomb squad determined that the late-hour blast was "probably a 2-to-3-inch air-burst pyrotechnic mortar, which is a fancy name for a commercial firework, (which is illegal,)" said Lt. Jeff Hallock in a message to the Times.
"They confirmed it was NOT a meteor," Hallock said in his message.
About 12:15 a.m., the Orange County Sheriff's Department received three or four calls from residents in Lake Forest's Foothill Ranch community about a loud explosion and a flash of light. Several South Orange County residents tweeted about the incident, asking about the source of the blast.
Entire neighborhoods emptied into the streets in the middle of the night, residents said, with some people pointing to what looked like a cloudy path overhead as the sign of some galactic visitor.
Seven sheriff's deputies and a helicopter swarmed the area to investigate within half an hour of the reports but found nothing.
Hallock said deputies chatting over the radio speculated that it was a meteor striking the canyon. The guess was based on witness statements and numerous reports of an explosion and flash of light, he said.
As dispatchers guessed about the blast's origin, Foothill Ranch resident Korosh Torkzadeh heard them chatting about a meteor over law enforcement scanners.
"Am I hearing this right?" the 29-year-old recalled thinking. "At that point, it was just kind of amazement."
Some paper residue from fireworks was discovered later Monday morning, Hallock said.