Flames as high as 8 to 9 feet were shooting from a hole in the ground when a fire chief got to the scene, he told the Springfield News-Leader.
“It burned that way for 30 to 45 minutes before it went out,” fire chief Donald Tucker told the newspaper.
Once the fire burned out, Tucker told the News-Leader that he took a temperature reading — it was 780 degrees inside, he said. The hole was about 3 and a half feet deep.
“But what caused it? I have no idea,” Tucker, chief of the town’s Volunteer Fire Protection District, told the paper. “There’s no gas lines nearby and there was no smell of natural gas.”
He isn’t the only official who has no idea what could have caused a burning hole in the ground.
“I can’t think of any geologic situation that would allow that to happen. Not in this area,” Ty Johnson with the Arkansas Geological Survey told KY3. “There’s not any fossil fuels, or natural gas or petroleum that occurs in the area.”
Geologists said they don’t think it was a lighting strike, according to the TV station.
And Jim Sierzchula, director of Baxter County’s Office of Emergency Management, told the News-Leader that the cause is still a mystery.
“At this time we don’t have a clue what it is,” he told the newspaper. He thinks it looks like an “existing hole,” and he said it smelt like burnt plastic when he got there.
While the cause is still up in the air — and as conspiracies start to grow on social media — one Baxter County judge has a few possibilities to rule out.
“We don’t believe that the devil showed up, or the meteorites landed, or the big booms happened,” judge Mickey Pendergrass told KY3.
Pendergrass told the station that officials have contacted all area utility companies, and they confirmed that nobody has lost service.
“What ignited it and what fueled it we still don’t know,” he told KY3. “And it may remain forever a mystery.”
And as with many mysteries, people have their theories.
“Oh that’s just aliens drilling for fuel,” said another.
“Giant spiders nest..... or our own Tremors worm-like monster!!” one person wrote.
One person considered how close the timing of the hole is to the recent FBI shutdown at Sunspot Solar Observatory in New Mexico.
“Not saying it’s connected, but it would be interesting timing if there was an increase in meteorological activity,” he wrote.
The observatory has since reopened, but officials have said “very little” about why it was shut down, the Kansas City Star reported, leading to other conspiracy theories.