Authorities solve 'fire ball' UFO mystery

Floating objects were lanterns from wedding ceremony

DAISETTA, Texas - The mystery over strange lights in the sky north of Houston has been solved.

Over the weekend, witnesses and authorities said they observed fire balls that some believed were UFOs. As it turns out, investigators said the objects were actually paper lanterns lit after a wedding ceremony.

While lanterns floated into the distance, authorities received a 911 call reporting the sighting. Authorities said a dispatcher received the call from a concerned citizen at 8:27 p.m. on Sunday. The citizen reported seeing "red fire balls in the sky" traveling in a south-west direction from the area of Daisetta in East Liberty County.

"It was a 911 call (from someone) deeply concerned of what it might be," said Captain Keith DeFoor with the Liberty Sheriff's Department.

In total, about a dozen people reported seeing the red fire balls traveling southwest at an altitude of 3,000 feet. Some laughed it off, but others were scared by the unknown objects.

"People were calling and thinking it was UFOs," said Shirley Lachapelle, the mother of the groom at the wedding where the lanterns' trip started.

Calls to the sheriff's department sent deputies into a frenzy. Officials said they called the Federal Aviation Administration and the weather center looking for an explanation.

"They checked their records. They had no indication that anything was sent up that would fit that description," said DeFoor.

The captain said he went as far as calling the National UFO Reporting Center in Spokane, Washington.

"We (thought we) were under invasion by a planet out in the unknown somewhere," said DeFoor.

Instead, about 100 lanterns were released into the sky as family and friends celebrated a new marriage.

"It was a wish for each of the guests to send up a wish for the new married couple," said Lachapelle.

The wedding party laughed off the UFO theory and apologized when they learned how many people were concerned about the objects.

"We are sorry if we scared people, but we do hope our wish lanterns work and our wishes come true," said Lachapelle.

Now that the mystery has been solved, the sheriff's office is asking people to call them before lighting similar lanterns and sending them into the sky. Notifying officials could help authorities avoid dangerous results, especially given the low humidity and high winds the region has recently experienced.

Copyright 2013 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.