©Sylvester King

Supernatural phenomena were never more than a passing interest for Sylvester and Cheryl King of southern Hardin County.

"You see things on television and you wonder, 'Could this stuff really happen?' " said Sylvester. "Some of the stories are almost impossible to believe. Now, mine's more bizarre than theirs."

About 10 minutes before sunset on July 8, Sylvester, a retired construction superintendent and builder, came in from working in the garage shop at the large home on 41 wooded acres that he and his sons built several years ago near the Flint Hill community. He was pouring a cup of coffee at the kitchen sink when something caught his eye, moving slowly along the edge of the nearby woodland.

He describes the object as a grayish sphere, slightly smaller than a basketball, which appeared to be spinning as it floated about five feet above the ground.

As he watched in disbelief, he said, the sphere changed shape within seconds into what he could best describe as resembling a fruit bowl turned on its edge with a deep blue to black center, surrounded by a narrow, grayish border with thin bars of brilliant yellow light extending from the edges.

His account of what happened seconds later is even more incredible.

"Then it was just like it exploded, and spikes of light lit up the whole area bright orange and red ... coming out of the trees, the ground and everywhere, like they'd come out of thin air," he said. "It was just like the whole place was charged up some way or another. Then almost immediately, it shrunk back down to a ball of fire about three feet across with spikes of light that looked like crystals with distinct sides."

Sylvester yelled for his wife, who was working at a computer in another room, to look outside; he raced to get his camera from the shop.

"He was all torn up and I don't even remember what he was saying, but when I got over to the window, I see down there a glowing red light that I thought was fire," said Cheryl, a registered nurse. "I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, the woods are on fire!' "

By that time, her husband had stepped onto the porch with his digital camera, then out into the yard in time to take three photographs of what by then was a glowing red image perhaps 70 to 80 yards away in the woods.

"I was terrified and had run back in the house and locked the door," Cheryl said. "By the time I got back over to the kitchen window, it was just gone."

When the red glow vanished, Sylvester realized it had been illuminating the trunk and lower limb of a white oak tree 15 inches in diameter.

What had the Kings seen?

The weather was nice with no lightning in the area, and no fireworks were known to be in use on the woodland surrounding the home. They heard no noise and saw no smoke.

Sylvester sent a message to NASA describing the sighting soon after the event, and was told someone would contact him but it could take a while. The agency has yet to follow up.

He has searched the Internet for stories of similar incidents. He has only the picture of the tree glowing red, which some believe contains an image of a bearded face. Sylvester calls the photograph "The Moses Fire" after the biblical account of the burning bush.

He and his wife have lost several nights' sleep since the incident, and Sylvester has been keeping his camera handy, watching the woods closely -- and particularly the white oak -- in case the incident should recur.

The couple already had sold the home to one of their sons and were in the process of relocating to Tennessee. Now their son -- who lives in another state -- has the home for sale again.

"I don't know if this will help or hurt the sale," said Sylvester.