The Billings woman who captured a viral video of a purported explosion near Billings said she thought something went down in her neighborhood, even though authorities have not confirmed any emergencies in the area.
Dolly Moore, who lives near the intersection of Shiloh Road and Grand Avenue on Billings West End, told MTN News Friday night she felt her windows shake, so she looked out the window of her office and saw what she assumed to be a jet in the sky. It was about 4:45 p.m.
“All of sudden it was this big explosion in the sky and all this debris started slowly coming down like it was big smoke," she said.
A loud noise can be heard in the video, but it's unclear where it's coming from.
Moore, who used to work at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, said she immediately assumed the explosion had something to do with the Chinese spy balloon that had been spotted over Billings Wednesday night. While authorities have stated the balloon has left Montana, and reports have emerged that it appears to be in the Midwest, Moore said she still thought what she saw was related to the balloon.
“My gut instinct was, 'oh my gosh, they just shot down that balloon. It must have been over Billings again. It must have been that spy plane.”
She posted the video to Twitter, where it went viral, where it was seen 5.7 million times by 9 p.m.
Local officials have said reports of an explosion are "unsubstantiated." The city of Billings reported that after consulting with the Montana Department of Emergency Services and Gov. Greg Gianforte's office, officials could find no reports of an emergency or downed plane in the Billings area or in the state.
Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder said his office had received many calls but could find no reports of an explosion in the area. (Update 9:50 p.m. Linder said he made contact with Moore and believes the video is real. He added that it's difficult to determine what the video shows.)
Tensions are high in the Billings area since an object identified as a Chinese spy balloon was spotted above Billings Wednesday. Military planes were sent to the area to shoot it down, but they were later ordered to stand down. The Pentagon has been monitoring the flight of the balloon, and additional sightings have been reported in the Midwestern U.S.
U.S. Rep. Matt Rosendale, while not confirming any explosion, said he's seeking details from Malmstrom, where the U.S. stores intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
U.S. Sen. Jon Tester said he plans to hold hearings on the matter in the Senate defense subcommittee.
Despite the assurances to the contrary, Moore said she was frightened that the balloon was back over Billings.
“I was shaking. I thought, 'oh my gosh, they just blew it up over our neighborhood,'" she said.
Full interview: Billings woman who shot viral video of purported explosion
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