‘UFO invasion’ fears as massive fireball appears in Florida sky (VIDEO)

© ABC 7 Sarasota - WWSB
A handful of residents on Florida’s western coast called the police to ask if an alien invasion was unfolding, after seeing a bright light in the night sky. The fireball turned out to be a small meteor, according to the US government.

The American Meteor Society received over 150 reports from residents living from Key West in the south to the Florida panhandle in the north, who spotted the great ball of fire on Monday evening.

The fireball was recorded on dashboard cameras of two police cruisers in North Port, on the southwestern coast of Florida. Poking fun at theories about an alien invasion, the police department closed the video with “At least we know that we come in peace.”

Some of the people commenting on the department’s Facebook page said they were initially told it was a transformer explosion. The police thought the same thing, until they saw the dashcam footage.

Josh Stone, a meteorologist WWSB TV in Sarasota, said the fireball “looked as bright as the sun” and that he “heard a little rumbling after it faded away,” according to The Sun.

The fireball turned out to be an extraterrestrial visitor, albeit of a mundane kind.

A baseball-size meteor entered the atmosphere around 11:18pm on Monday night, moving at the speed of 40,000 miles (over 64,000 kilometers) per hour, reported NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

“The meteor began 46 miles above the Gulf of Mexico and 8 miles from Sarasota,” said Bill Cooke, manager of the Meteoroid Environments Office. It traveled northwest, before disintegrating at the altitude of 15 miles (24 km), Cooke said.

Rapid evaporation of frozen water and carbon dioxide made for the bright light, culminating in the explosion as the meteor finally vaporized. It was classified as a “bolide” and caused no damage, NASA said.

The earth is under constant bombardment from space rocks, with thousands of meteorites burning up in the atmosphere every year. In 2013, a much bigger meteor broke apart 15 miles above the ground near Chelyabinsk, Russia, creating a shockwave equivalent to a 500-kiloton explosion – almost 30 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 – and injuring over 1,200 people.