Reports came from residents from Carmel Valley to Salinas of a fireball shooting through the Tuesday night sky and hitting the Earth. A sheriff's deputy patrolling Carmel Valley saw it and thought enough of it to call for reinforcements.

Turns out, the fireball was probably a meteor passing through the atmosphere.

Deputy Joe Palazzolo reported seeing a bright light streak across the sky in a southeasterly direction around 9 p.m. He drove east on Carmel Valley Road to where he thought he saw the object crash and start a fire east of Garland Ranch Regional Park.

He said the fire appeared to get larger as he got closer, but fire crews did not find evidence of a fire or a meteor.

That's because the space rock never hit Earth, said Tami Huntley, spokeswoman for the Monterey Institute for Research in Astronomy in Marina.

"If it would have hit, we would have felt it," Huntley said. "It would have caused an earthquake."

The U.S. Geological Survey Web site does not show any recorded earth shaking in Carmel Valley or Salinas Valley on Tuesday night.

"Everybody keeps saying that it landed, that it hit the Earth," Huntley said. "It didn't hit."

Huntley said the institute receives meteor reports about twice a month.

Tuesday night's sighting was likely a stray from the Gemini meteor shower, Huntley said.

County residents can expect to see some good light shows in about three weeks, when the Uranus meteor shower passes by the Earth's atmosphere, she said.