A large fireball that flashed through the sky over central B.C. early today was caused by a Russian rocket that fell from space, the third time pieces of Russian space junk have fallen in the province, police said.

Const. Gary Godwin of the Prince George RCMP said dozens of witnesses called about 1 a.m. saying they had seen a huge orange-red "meteor" in an area over Prince George.

"We had numerous reports of bright flashes across the sky going from east to west," said Godwin.

The RCMP dispatched vehicles to the scene in case of a plane crash or the chance of recovering a meteorite, but nothing was found.

Godwin said the file had been turned over to the RCMP's E Division in Vancouver for further investigation.

"It might have been pieces from a Russian rocket that had disconnected and fell back into Earth's atmosphere," he said. Godwin said it was the third time Russian space junk had been spotted falling over B.C., but he could not say when the other two incidents had occurred.

The North American Aerospace Defence Command, or NORAD, said today a Russian SL6 rocket fell from space and crossed over an area from Kamloops to Dawson Creek, a distance of about 800 kilometres.

The Department of National Defence said the incident was being dealt with by Canada's Public Safety Department, which was preparing a response.