While sitting on my patio on the evening of 9/22/12 at approximately 7:30 p.m., chatting on the phone with friends (3 way call) I noticed an orange streak in the southern sky. There are many flight paths viewable from my backyard so it is not uncommon to see aircraft lights. The flaming streak was about 45 or 50 degrees above the horizon. It was a considerable distance south of my location and at an elevation of flights that are going on to California or even further, definitely not intending to land at a local airport. It was traveling in a westward direction about the speed of other aircraft. What made it unusual was the flame shooting out behind it. The flame was approximately 6 to 10x the length of the craft itself. I told my friends what I was seeing and that I thought I was witnessing an aircraft blow an engine. The flame receded and went out and the craft continued west as I began to see 4-5 bright white lights appear behind and below the flight path of the aircraft which had now begun to bank south and circle back around until it was once again over the descending white lights. I continued to describe this to my friends on the phone and speculate on what this may be, at first a blown engine on an aircraft, then maybe military flares like THE PHOENIX LIGHTS were reported to be, but the these lights seemed to move west then back east a couple of times as they descended and didn't hover at one altitude. Then I jokingly told my friends maybe it was an invasion and they were dropping large military supplies, but then that didn't seem so funny. I continued to watch as the white lights went out and back on a couple of times eventually disappearing below the roofline of my neighbor's house to the south. The original craft continued on it's westwardly course until it to was out of my line of sight. There seemed to be several other aircraft in the vicinity that seemed to come to investigate, but as I said I live in an area of many flight paths. I didn't take any pictures because I was on an important call with my friends and my phone is also my camera.