In an effort to reduce the fire dangers in our community, Heartland Fire & Rescue Fire Chief Rick Sitta has issued a warning on the dangers of sky lanterns, saying “these fire lanterns pose a serious threat to our county.”
A sky lantern is essentially a small hot air balloon made of paper with an opening at the bottom where a small fire is suspended. The heated air from the flame causes it to rise into the air and to be carried off by the wind. “The problem is that once released, there is no control over where the lantern lands,” Sitta said. “It could land in trees or bushes, on hillsides, in canyons, or on someone’s home. The risk of causing a fire is significant when sky lanterns are used.”
Sky lanterns have grown in popularity over the years thanks to movies and commercials. They are often seen at weddings and vigils. Invented in China, the lanterns were first used as signals during wars. They are now launched at festivals for good luck and to send wishes skyward. Sitta is discouraging the use of sky lanterns, at any time, especially during the Fourth of July.
The U.S. Fire Marshal’s Association has already adopted a resolution urging states to ban the sale and use of sky lanterns.
The California Office of the State Fire Marshal issued a bulletin in June of 2012 on the potential of fire safety problems regarding the use of sky lanterns. The use of sky lanterns is prohibited by several laws and codes in California including the Health and Safety Code, T-19 Public Safety Code, the Public Resources Code, and the International Fire Code.
There is a serious fire and safety hazard associated with sky lanterns. The potential to start an unintended fire on or off the property from which they are released cannot be overlooked. Sky lanterns have been the cause of commercial, residential, and wildland fires worldwide.
— Heartland Fire & Rescue press release
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