'Very, Very Much' Debris Found in Texas

By Scott Hogenson | July 7, 2008 | 8:20 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - In a development that appears to confirm the worst, local sheriff's officials in east Texas say debris from what is presumed to be the space shuttle Columbia has been found about 150 miles southeast of Dallas.

An official with the Nacogdoches County, Texas sheriff's office told CNSNews.com there is "Very, very, very much," debris in the area, but provided no other details.

The official did not identify herself and referred the call to the county's emergency management officer, who was not immediately available for comment.

A broadcaster in east Texas said the area around Nacogdoches, Tex., is littered with small pieces of debris.

"I was actually woken up by the boom, whatever they're calling it, the noise. I went outside to make sure that a vehicle or something didn't crash in the front yard," said Bob Michaels, the morning host at radio station KJCS-FM in Nacogdoches.

"There's a piece (of the shuttle) behind the station right now. There's pieces everywhere," Michaels told CNSNews.com.

"The largest piece we've accounted for is a four-foot by three-foot piece that was found downtown," said Michaels. "It looks like a piece of paneling or something. It's got like a titanium-aluminum look to it."

?There are pieces from here, all the way up to San Augustine,? which is about 40 miles from Nacogdoches, said Michaels, who said reports of debris were coming in from ?probably about a 50 mile circular radius from here and all the way into Louisiana.?

Authorities in Louisiana are busy trying to confirm reports of debris, according to an official with the state police.

"We've had reports, nothing confirmed," Louisiana State Police Lt. William Davis told CNSNews.com. "We're following up the reports as we get them, but nothing located as of yet."

According to Davis, the reports are coming in from an area in the central and north-central part of the state along the Louisiana-Texas state line.

Davis said the state's emergency operations center in Baton Rouge has been activated, but there were no reports of injuries or damage as of early afternoon Saturday.

Communications with Columbia were lost around 9:00 a.m. EST when the shuttle was traveling at more than 12,000 miles per hour at an altitude of more than 200,000 feet.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said pieces of debris had also turned up in his state.

As the morning went on, television footage showed various small pieces of debris - much of which appeared to be metal. All the debris had been cordoned off with yellow police tape.

NASA issued a statement saying, "Debris has been sighted in north central Texas. Search and rescue has been dispatched in Dallas-Fort Worth area."

NASA also warned people who may come across debris to stay away from it, because of the possibility that it may be toxic.