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'No, that's the rocket.' Orcutt residents react to finding rocket debris in neighborhood

Suspected debris .jpg
Posted at 5:00 PM, Sep 03, 2021

More and more Central Coast residents are finding debris from the Firefly Alpha rocket that exploded over the Pacific Ocean.

The rocket launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base just before 7 p.m. Thursday.

After experiencing an anomaly 2 minutes and 30 seconds after takeoff, it was terminated by the base.

This marks the inaugural launch for Firefly Aerospace and the goal was to make sure its employees are on the right track and working toward putting other projects into space.

The company says it’s investigating the root cause of the explosion with the FAA and Vandenberg Space Force Base.

“This is like the first explosion I've ever seen in my whole entire life,” said young Mateo Garcia of Orcutt.

Some were not prepared for what happened next, either.

Pieces of the rocket started dropping from the sky.

About an hour after the explosion and roughly 15 miles away from base, residents in Orcutt were shocked to see the debris, too.

“That was the first thing I said was, ‘My gosh, it's so far away. How did it get all the way over here into our yard?’ That was mind blowing for us,” said Tayna Wilson of Orcutt.

“I literally walked out and found this piece right there on the ground and then as I, I wasn't sure what it was, I actually threw it away,” said Christopher Garcia of Orcutt.

Pieces of fiberglass of all sizes were found by neighbors in the Lake Marie Estates.

“I'm going, ‘What the heck? Somebody didn't tie their trash down on their truck or somewhat" and she's going, ‘No, that's the rocket',” said Jerry Charette of Orcutt.

Yolanda Charette and her husband say they were about 10 feet away from a 4X5 piece of flying debris.

“My husband and I were getting ready to take out the trash when I heard a whizzing sound and I looked to my right and this big black piece of fiberglass came just down like a rocket,” Yolanda Charette said.

Their American flag was torn as the piece came spiraling into their front yard.

“It kind of just splattered fiberglass pieces and they ended up on my arm so we had to take tweezers to take them out,” Yolanda said.

“Years ago, like in the '90s, I saw one that exploded but I’ve never heard of stuff just falling straight into people's yards and stuff, no, to me that's unheard of and I've lived here since the 80s,” Wilson said.

Debris was also found at Orcutt Community Park.

Despite the flurry of debris, there have not been any reports of any major injuries.

“It reminded me a lot of the Challenger explode like that. Definitely memories I have but I'm glad nobody got hurt and nobody was on board this rocket,” Christopher said.

Residents are asked to report any debris findings to the Firefly Aerospace hotline at (805) 605-2734.

The base is also asking people to stay away from the debris.

KSBY reached out to ask whether the debris could be potentially hazardous to people but Vandenberg and Firefly have been unable to answer that question for us.