Town jolted by bumps in night

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY DI­NESH RAMDE AND CAR­RIE ANTLFIN­GER

CLIN­TONVILLE, WIS. | Sleep­less fam­i­lies in a small Wis­con­sin town longed for quiet Wed­nes­day af­ter mys­te­ri­ous boom­ing noises over the past few nights roused them from bed and sent res­i­dents into the street some­times still in pa­ja­mas.

The strange dis­tur­bances sound like dis­tant thun­der, fire­works or some­one slam­ming a heavy door. At first, many peo­ple were amused or merely cu­ri­ous. But af­ter three rest­less nights, ag­gra­va­tion is mount­ing. Some folks are con­sid­er­ing leav­ing town un­til in­ves­ti­ga­tors de­ter­mine the source of the racket.

“My hus­band thought it was cool, but I don’t think so. This is not a joke,” said Jo­lene Van Beek, who awoke early Sun­day to a loud boom that shook her house. “I don’t know what it is, but I just want it to stop.”

The boom­ing in Clin­tonville con­tin­ued Mon­day and Tues­day nights and into Wed­nes­day morn­ing, even­tu­ally prompt­ing Mrs. Van Beek to take her three sons to her fa­ther’s home 10 min­utes away so they could get some un­in­ter­rupted sleep.

There have been no re­ports of in­jury or dam­age de­spite some res­i­dents say­ing they could feel the ground roll be­neath their feet.

City of­fi­cials say they have in­ves­ti­gated ev­ery pos­si­ble hu­man cause. They checked water, sewer and gas lines; con­tacted the mil­i­tary about any ex­er­cises in the area; re­viewed per­mits for min­ing ex­plo­sives; and in­spected a dam next to city hall. They even tested meth­ane lev­els at the land­fill in case the gas was ex­plod­ing spon­ta­neously.

“Peo­ple in the area are cer­tainly frus­trated,” City Ad­min­is­tra­tor Lisa Kuss said.

The city is also in­ves­ti­gat­ing ge­o­log­i­cal causes. Of­fi­cials plan to bring in vi­bra­tion-de­tec­tion de­vices to try to de­ter­mine the epi­cen­ter of any un­der­ground ac­tiv­ity.

Au­thor­i­ties set up au­dio and video equip­ment overnight but didn’t cap­ture any ev­i­dence of shak­ing or boom­ing de­spite at least one loud noise about 5 a.m. Wed­nes­day, Ms. Kuss said.

De­spite the frayed nerves, a lo­cal sci­en­tist said noth­ing has sur­faced that sug­gests towns­peo­ple should be afraid.

Steve Dutch, a ge­ol­o­gist at the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin-green Bay, said the ground be­neath them is solid and there are no known earth­quake fault lines in the area.

Mr. Dutch said he heard some peo­ple wor­ry­ing that a sink­hole might open up and swal­low homes. That can hap­pen in ar­eas where the ground is rich with lime­stone and other low­den­sity rocks that can be dis­solved by water, he said. But the rock be­low Clin­tonville is mainly solid gran­ite that’s largely im­per­me­able.

Some res­i­dents are hav­ing fun with the mys­tery, which has drawn me­dia at­ten­tion from around the na­tion.

Jor­dan Pfeiler said peo­ple stayed up late on the first two nights to walk around lis­ten­ing for booms. They came up with out­landish the­o­ries to ex­plain the noise; for ex­am­ple, that the White House was build­ing an un­der­ground bunker in the area or that mole men had found a home there.

“And the aliens, of course, there’s al­ways the aliens,” she said.

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