Frantic callers alerted the police as they spotted a fireball in the sky fearing an aircraft was breaking up in the sky.
After receiving numerous calls, police launched a land and air search in Devon but they were stood down after it was realised the sighting was probably a meteorite.
The flying object was seen by many people in the early hours of Sunday morning and experts say it was an asteroid breaking up after penetrating the earth’s atmosphere.
Devon and Cornwall Police said it began receiving calls from worried residents in Yelverton, Princetown and Clearbrook from around 6.25am and later received reports from people seeing the meteor from as far away as Dorset and Cardiff.
UK Meteor Network, an association of astronomers with meteor detection cameras, confirmed it had received dozens of reports of a fireball meteor which is believed to have travelled in a southwesterly direction over the English Channel.
The flying object was seen breaking apart and falling to the ground and two police helicopters and a coastguard helicopter from Newquay were scrambled amid fears a plane could be in trouble.
People took to social media to report the sighting and UK Meteor Network shared photos one of their members had captured of the long and slow meteor lasting over 25 seconds.
The UKMON – a group of like-minded astronomers who operate a network of meteor detection and record any meteor activity – and BOAM – the French meteor observation database – have recorded a great fireball over the Channel.
They say the event was a slow-moving bright meteor, captured by four cameras in the UK and one in France.
There have been 91 public reports so far from Île-de-France, Bretagne, England, Hauts-de-France, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Pays de la Loire and Wales. Many reports indicate a fragmentation of at least two pieces.
Both networks are currently gathering data from cameras and trying to triangulate the event.