Over the last few years, sky lanterns have become increasingly popular at weddings and other celebratory events. These lanterns act like hot air balloons utilizing the heat produced from an open flame to rise into the night sky. The more lanterns that are flown, the greater the affect.
Unfortunately, sky lanterns pose a serious fire risk. The paper used to make the lantern can easily ignite, causing the lantern to fall from the sky and burn whatever it lands on. Last week, a Rancho Santa Fe resident found two burnt sky lanterns had landed in their backyard. One lantern landed in a landscaped area, which helped to minimize the threat, but the other landed in an open area with weeds and natural vegetation.
“We are very fortunate that the weather worked in our favor that day,” said Battalion Chief Dave Livingstone. “If it had been just a little hotter and a little drier the lanterns could have caused a serious problem. Sky lanterns, like fireworks, are illegal in San Diego County.”
It would not have been the first time such lanterns caused a fire. According to The Press Democrat, in 2016, the roofs of two homes in Santa Rosa, CA, caught fire when lanterns landed on them. Sky lanterns were also suspected of causing a fire at a zoo in Germany on January 1 of this year, killing 30 animals.
“If you see sky lanterns or other types of fireworks being used, please call 911 and report it,” encouraged Livingstone. “Individuals that use them could be held responsible for any damage they may cause. They may be pretty to look at, but they are just not worth the risk.”