BRIDGEWATER — It may have looked like an out-of-this-world blast, but authorities say a mysterious glow that lit up the early-morning sky in Bridgewater today was no cause for alarm.
Some county and Bridgewater officials believe that transformer fires caused by heavy rain may have played a part in the freakish light show, although they had no definitive answers about the source of the lights.
Shortly after midnight, several Bridgewater residents reported seeing a pulsating glow in the distance that changed colors, similar to the aurora borealis. They said the lights appeared to come from the northern part of the township.
"The sky lit up like pure daylight," said 87-year-old Joseph Wing, who lives on Foothill Road. "This was unlike anything I’ve ever seen."
Wing said he first wondered if an explosion was responsible, but he didn’t hear a blast or feel an impact that matched the intensity of the lights.
He said the glow disappeared around 12:30 a.m. It was followed by reports of power outages in the township.
A Bridgewater police official and a Jersey Central Power & Light spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment. But Township Council President Howard Norgalis said he was aware of several electricity-related fires around that time — most notably a sparking transformer near Milltown Road and Route 28.
Robert Bogart, township administrator, said there was also a transformer explosion on Route 202/206 and Heather Hill Way.
William Stahl, the county's 9-1-1 director, said he saw lights dimming and brightening on the horizon from his Warren Township home this morning. Based on Tuesday night's weather, the lights might have been caused by tree limbs falling on power lines, causing sparks and blown fuses, he said.
Early this morning, after the bright flashes of light began appearing in the Bridgewater sky, concerned residents and startled motorists called a live radio talk show on New Jersey 101.5-FM to report what they had seen.
Some callers reported what appeared to be a transformer explosion, with the sky lighting up in bright blue and green flashes that lasted more than a minute.
"I'm lying in bed when I hear this enormous rumbling sound," said one man who called the Ray Rossi show. When he looked outside his window, he saw blue and green lights in the sky, "like a flash of lightning that never stops."
A woman who called the radio station said she saw extremely bright blue flashes of light flickering in the sky and lighting up her neighborhood for about two minutes.