• The bright flare was likely a sporadic meteor, the Coast Guard said
  • One resident caught the rare sight on video
Residents in south Florida spotted something in the horizon that they described 'as orange or red fireballs in the sky,' according to officials.

Amanda Mayer, of the West Palm Beach area, told reporters that she noticed the bright flare in the night sky on Sunday and thought it was somebody flashing a light.

Mayer said she hit the record button on her camera just in time to capture the rare sight.
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© NBC6
What's that? Residents in South Florida spotted something in the horizon that they described 'as orange or red fireballs in the sky'
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© NBC6
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© NBC6

'I was like, 'Wow! That's weird,' said Mayer. 'I just started videotaping, and that's when it happened.'

The bright flare that many saw was likely a sporadic meteor, said Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Sabrina Laberdesque.

A sporadic meteor is a rocky object that comes from the asteroid belt, Mike Hankey, operations manager for the American Meteor Society in New York, told NBC News.

He said that his organization received 27 reports within about the first two hours of the incident, an unusual amount for what he called a 'common' event.

'This is a lot of reports to come in quickly,' Hankey said.

Gauging by those reports, the meteor passed somewhere over the ocean, he noted.

'These fireballs are common,' Hankey said. 'It's rare for any one person to see one more than once or twice in their lifetime. But on any given night, it might happen somewhere in the globe a few times in a day.'

'People should not be scared of the sky falling,' he added.

After a meteor exploded over Russia on Friday injuring more than 1,000 people, a growing number of false meteor reports have come in, in many cases mistaking planes and birds for meteors, Hankey said.

If the same incident is reported by multiple sources in a short time span then it becomes more likely to be a legitimate meteor sighting, he said.

In South Florida, the Coast Guard found that the reported fireball vanished in an instant.

Coast Guard officials sent out a helicopter to check out a report of a flare near the MacArthur Causeway in Miami, but found nothing there, Laberdesque said.

'I was pretty sure it was a meteor because of everything else that's been happening,' Mayer said.

A similar distant meteor sighting took place in Northern California less than 24 hours after the meteor explosion in Russia.