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No UFOs Or Drones – Mysterious Lights Over Dallas Solved

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - There was lots of interest after some saw strange lights in the North Texas sky. Rumors pegged them as a UFO. And while they weren't alien -- they were illegal.

The culprit in this case – sky lanterns. You've probably seen the small, hot air balloon-like, paper lanterns being lifted high into the air by a small fire at the bottom.

A lot of cities have banned the floating lanterns, so when they show up in the sky many people don't know what they're seeing.

The strange lights over Lakewood on Sunday had people online wondering. Most of the consensus was for UFOs or drones.

Islam Sesalem said, "It's kind of funny. I didn't know it was gonna get that kind of reaction."

Sesalem says he organized the release of 37 Chinese sky lanterns. "The last couple years we set off balloons. This year I thought we'd do something different."

The lanterns were released as part of a tribute to a friend and local graffiti artist, Minus WON, who died three years ago. Sesalem said, "A lot of kids looked up to him. His style was one of a kind."

The lanterns, which are common at Asian festivals, are sold online in the United States and are usually purchased for weddings and special events.

The floating lights can create an awe-inspiring effect. But they can also fail to launch and fall back down to the ground in flames. The latter is why the National Association of State Fire Marshals has encouraged states to ban the sale and use of sky lanterns.

The potential danger is also why officials with Dallas Fire Rescue said they're not allowed in city limits.

Often online customers, looking for something memorable, have no warning about the potential dangers.

Islam Sesalem said he just wanted to do something nice. "We were honoring our friend on his birthday. That's pretty much all we were thinking about... and putting a smile on everybody's face."

A number of cities and about half the states in the U.S. have banned the lanterns.

To find out what's allowed in your area - and avoid any trouble - call your local fire marshal.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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