Montana officials have issued a statement saying that reports of a “massive explosion” taking place in the sky near where a Chinese spy balloon was spotted are inaccurate after a video went viral on social media purporting to show several blasts in the sky over Billings and what could be debris falling to the ground.
Two explosions and a trail of smoke in the sky over Billings Montana, where the balloon had been flying over the region, were captured on camera on Friday.
Dolly Moore, who shot the video and shared it on Twitter, said she saw a jet zooming by “so fast” followed by explosions.
Ok, so here’s what I just caught I few minutes ago out my window. I saw a jet go by so fast and then explosion in the sky. Holy crap! Billings MT. pic.twitter.com/swr8ERC6pf— Dolly Moore (@MMtTreasures) February 4, 2023
The video was shared widely on social media and was picked up by a number of cable networks, drawing speculation whether the U.S. military had shot down the spy balloon, as a number of prominent current and former officials had called for.
In an appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte said he had just been informed of an apparent explosion and that authorities were “monitoring the situation” and would provide an update when more information became available.
Initially, the City of Billings put out a statement on Twitter saying that they were aware of the video and claims of a “massive explosion” over Billings but that no plane crashes had been caught on radar and no emergency crews had been called in to respond to any incidents.
In a follow-up statement, the City of Billings said that Gianforte and the Montana Department of Emergency Services had confirmed there was no explosion in or around Billings, Montana.
“They are aware of the video and it can not be substantiated,” the statement said.
Pentagon officials, who have called the balloon’s presence over U.S. airspace at around 60,000 feet a “clear violation” of U.S. sovereignty, have said that they would most likely not shoot it down due to the risk of debris falling on civilian areas.
A senior defense official on Feb. 2 told reporters that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other top defense leadership convened on Feb. 1 to discuss the proper course of action regarding the balloon.
By Tom Ozimek