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Pinellas smoke ring mystery solved

Clearwater, FL -- Well, you asked 10 News to get to the bottom of a mystery for you and we've done just that.

Viewers have flooded the TV station's phone lines and email inboxes since last night sharing images of an ominous black ring in the sky over Clearwater.

STORY: Strange smoke ring spotted in Pinellas County

It wasn't just what people saw, but what they heard that was so disturbing. A loud boom, followed by that dark smoke ring that just seemed to linger there.

Some thought it was a UFO. Others thought something had blown up.

See also: Hunting for cause of mystery Pinellas smoke ring

"It was really black, like a perfect oval," said Mike Quillen, who felt it before he saw it.

"I could hear the explosion, and like I said, the windows rattled in the house."

When Quillen stepped outside, he saw a huge black smoke ring rising slowly.

He thought it might be from an electrical transformer blowing up, but we checked with the power company and they told us that it wasn't anything having to do with them.

"I'd love to find out what it was," said Quillen, who was by no means alone.

Lots of people sent similar pictures in to 10 News -- many from different angles, but clearly the same image. Cecilia Walker took a couple of camera shots of her own, thinking maybe it was bats or a swarm of bees the way it was shifting.

PICS: More smoke ring photos

It was moving too slowly to be a normal smoke ring, she thought, and it frightened her.

"Because I thought it was just something that was going to come and invade something that was going to come our way and harm me -- I didn't know -- I didn't know. It was scary," she said.

In the end, we learned it wasn't a swarm, or exhaust fumes from an alien UFO. It wasn't an electrical problem or some construction accident either.

It was a fireball of gasoline and diesel fuel created by a huge mortar. The pyrotechnics were being tested for a fireworks display at an upcoming family celebration.

As it erupts into a ring of flame, you can hear someone close by say "Oh my God!"

The guy who ignited it asked to remain anonymous, but the family also didn't want people to worry. So, they shared the video with us -- and the explanation.

Smoke ring mystery - solved.

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