Raising the specter of aliens, UFOs and who knows what else, the SyFy Channel recently ran a video of pulsing, colored lights emanating from the middle of Fort Worth in May of last year.

The name of the show,  “Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files,” suggests the television producers are questioning the official explanation of the bizarre series of “fireballs.” Namely, exploding transformers during a lightning storm.

That was what local electric company Oncor told reporters last year, and it’s what they told me when I called this afternoon. Company spokesperson Arielle Kaplan said the same thing when she called me back.


Given the number of outages throughout Fort Worth that night and information from the National Weather Service, which recorded 330 lightning strikes around the same time as the video, the explanation seems pretty airtight.

Of course, the lack of detail no doubt provides fuel for theories to the contrary. Kaplan said lightning is the number one cause of power outages (no big surprise there) but couldn’t tell me how often such outages include blinding bursts of light that seem more Steven Spielberg than Stephen Hawking. Or how often such lights occur generally.

It isn’t just conspiracy theorists. The Star-T’s own Bob Ray Saunders said the cause of the fireballs is “still a mystery” in a July 3 column.

The official explanation from the power company was that the occurrence was caused by “lightning hitting transformers.”

As I told the newspaper that night, lightning may have hit a transformer that set off a chain reaction, but the flashes I saw were no lightning strikes.

Because several of the bright lights occurred near the Chesapeake drilling facility no East First Street, Saunders also said he suspected the culprit could be gas drilling.
However, the provocative video of Fort Worth aired on the SyFy channel isn’t the only one. Many YouTube videos from places around the world show very similar lights with the same explanation, such as this one in Portugal, this one in Japan, and this close-up in Washington, D.C. last year, which most clearly shows the exploding transformers.
It’s worth pointing out that the Fort Worth video got the most hits by far, with more than 1.3 million views.
As one commenter replied to a question about what caused the lights:

“There is no underground military installation. However, I readily admit that I’m unwilling to excavate east Fort Worth in order to demonstrate this point.”