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Fire Officials Warn Against Use of Sky Lanterns for Celebrations

Increased use of the flying lights -- illegal in California -- seen at weddings and parties. Fires just one of many concerns.

Sky lanterns during a Buddhist ceremony. Wikimedia.
Sky lanterns during a Buddhist ceremony. Wikimedia.
Bay Area fire prevention officers are warning residents about the illegal use of sky lanterns that have started a number of vegetation fires. 

The lanterns, also called floating, wishing or celebration lanterns, are airborne paper lanterns typically made of oiled rice paper on a bamboo frame, said Corrine Barclay, fire and hazardous materials inspector with the Petaluma Fire Department. 

The lanterns contain a small candle or fuel cell made of waxy flammable material that heats the air inside the lantern and causes it to rise into the air. The lanterns can travel long distances and may land when the flame is still burning or when the flame source is still hot creating a fire hazard, Barclay said. 

The lanterns are illegal in California, and are banned in New Hampshire, Illinois, Minnesota, South Carolina, Hawaii, Utah, Tennessee and Virginia. 

Anyone in California found using a lantern that starts a fire can be held liable for damage and the cost of fire and emergency services responding to the fire, Barclay said. 

The sky lanterns also pose hazards to aviation and vehicular traffic, and the Federal Aviation Association is concerned about the lanterns getting sucked into the engines of aircraft, Barclay said. 

"Locally we have seen the increased use of sky lanterns at weddings and other celebrations," Barclay said. "Not being aware of the laws doesn't exclude you from the liability."

-- Bay City News
Jacqueline King McClellan April 17, 2014 at 01:08 PM
Maybe someone should contact Groupon, they've had an ad/sale/coupon for them in the Santa Cruz section for as long as I can remember! Chinese Sky Lanterns with Fuel Patches from Sky Lanterns (Up to 60% Off). Two Options Available. Online Deal FROM $40 BUY! VALUE DISCOUNT YOU SAVE $100 60% $60 GIVE AS A GIFT Limited time remaining! Over 490 bought LIMITED QUANTITY AVAILABLE Party Planner Cultural Pursuits In a Nutshell Handmade Chinese lanterns with plastic-free biodegradable design ascend into the sky for up to 15 minutes The Fine Print Expires 360 days after purchase. Limit 5 per person, may buy 5 additional as gifts. Limit 1 per visit. Online only. Must use promotional value in 1 visit. Valid for sky lanterns only. Does not ship to AK, HI, IL, TN, Canada, Puerto Rico or PO Boxes. Extra fee for shipping. Merchant is solely responsible to purchasers for the care and quality of the advertised goods and services.
Susan C. Schena April 17, 2014 at 01:11 PM
And a reader in Santa Cruz just wrote in saying one of these landed on the roof of a neighbor after a bunch were set off in Aptos ...
Jeffrey Bottaro April 18, 2014 at 02:20 PM
HIGH-POWER LASERS afford a much more dramatic, predictable, and safe form of IMPROVISATIONAL LUMINIST ART.

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