Sky lantern sets fire to Olympic venue in Rio

The track and roof of the velodrome used in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro were damaged after a sky lantern landed on the facility. Much of the roof was heavily damaged and photos from TV network Globo showed a 20 to 30 meter section of the track had burned. Wood from Siberia was used to construct the track surface which made it one of the last venues in the Rio Olympics to be ready.

Sky lanterns, also known as Chinese lanterns, are plastic or paper bags lofted by the heat created by burning fuel at the bottom. After they are launched the perpetrator has no control and the dangerous devices are carried wherever the wind blows. Too often they get caught on trees, roofs, cell phone towers, or land on the ground when the flames are still active and start damaging fires. They are banned in most U.S. states and many countries, including Brazil.

Some areas enact specific laws or regulations prohibiting sky lanterns, but they are banned in any state or city that adopts the 2015 edition of the International Fire Code.

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Sky lantern may have caused warehouse fire

Sky lantern
Sky lantern, file photo.

The most likely cause of a fire that damaged a warehouse in the Philippines is a sky lantern, a small balloon carried aloft by burning fuel attached to its base.

According to the Cebu Daily News, Felix Suico Jr., head of the Bantay Mandaue Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office, said the fire may have been caused by a lighted sky lantern that landed on the warehouse’s roof. The fire was reported at 12:27 a.m. on January 1. The building was used to store electrical supplies.

Several other fires that broke out at around midnight on New Year’s Eve burned 400 homes in Barangays Guizo and Maguikay, Mandaue City. The causes of those fires have not been released.

Rancher says sky lantern caused death of a cow

Sky lantern
Sky lanterns. This photo found on the site of a company that sells the dangerous devices appears to show four of them in the background that have ignited the paper or plastic balloon and are raining down burning debris.

A rancher in the United Kingdom is blaming the death of one of his cows on a sky lantern that landed on his property. These devices are small hot air balloons lofted into the air by fuel burning at the base.

Below is an excerpt from an article at Farmers Weekly:

…Last year, David Rowlands of Grange Farm, Mickle Trifford, Chester, experienced the problems of sky lanterns first hand. The Rowlands family lost one of their pedigree Red Poll breeding cows to a sky lantern around bonfire night.

“She started staggering, so we treated her for staggers, but obviously it had no effect.

“The vets assessment was that the oesophagus had been pierced by wire from one of these wretched things, leading to asphyxiation,” Mr Rowlands explained.

“These sky lanterns have either wire or bamboo frames and essentially they’re cannon balls floating.

“Eventually they land and if they land in a field with cattle grazing, the cattle will investigate.

“The animals are inclined to chew things like this, the wire will splinter, penetrating their throats and causing swelling. It leads to asphyxiation, a horrible death taking about 48 hours.”

“How an animal-loving nation can tolerate this sort of risk to cattle and sheep baffles me,” he toldFarmers Weekly.

But Mr Rowlands hopes if more councils ban them it will help as he says he doesn’t think it is deliberate nastiness of the people releasing them, more that they simply don’t understand the risks.

“Our cows don’t think they are worth the risk,” he said…

Sky lanterns are banned in 39 of the states in the U.S.

Sky lanterns cause problems for landowner

Sky lantern
File photo of a sky lantern release in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Takeaway.

Hundreds of sky lanterns released at an October 15 event 18 miles north of downtown Denver caused problems for at least one landowner five miles away from where they were launched.

A company that makes money by hosting “festivals” where they charge participants who release the small hot air balloons that are lofted by burning fuel at their base, organized an event at the Colorado National Speedway adjacent to Interstate 25.

Below is an excerpt from an article at KDVR:

…”We were watching it not really knowing what it was, but liking it. It was beautiful,” Lauren Gueswel said. She said the view was stunning, until close to 200 lanterns landed on her 40-acre farmland.

“I was extremely concerned and a little angry,” Gueswel said.

Gueswel and her husband chased after the debris while also trying to calm spooked animals.

“Terrified. They were absolutely terrified,” Gueswel said.

The lanterns blew nearly five miles to end up on her property. The couple was worried about dry patches of grass.

“Several of these were landing with embers still burning,” Gueswel said.

A spokesman for the event said the lanterns never hit the ground still hot. Several organizers from the event visited the farm to help pick up the leftover lanterns. They said cleanup is always protocol…

The company that organized the incident, Lantern Fest, had planned to continue releasing the fire-carrying devices on a second night, but it was cancelled due to strong winds. But, they are planning two other events in Colorado — November 5 in Colorado Springs and another one November 6 at the Colorado National Speedway north of Denver.

The company is also planning large-scale releases of the fire balloons near Phoenix, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Albuquerque, El Paso, Austin, Dallas, South Padre Island, Spokane, and Boise.

Colorado is one of the 21 states that still have not banned these dangerous devices.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Allen.

Sky lanterns possible cause of fires that burned 4 homes and a boat dock

Sky lantern
Sky lantern release in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Takeaway.

Sky lanterns are being looked at as the possible cause for at least two fires over the Fourth of July holiday, one in New York and another in Michigan.

Investigators are considering sky lanterns as a possible cause for a fire that spread to four homes in Highland Park, Michigan Tuesday morning.

And in Yates County, New York, Sheriff Ron Spike, thinks a sky lantern caused a fire that burned a portion of a boat dock on Keuka Lake July 4. Boaters on the lake notified residents who were able to suppress the fire by dumping lake water onto it.

Below is an excerpt from an article at the Chronicle Express:

…Investigation by deputies and the fire chief concluded that based on debris at the scene that a sky lantern someone had launched to celebrate July 4 had landed on the dock, causing the fire. Spike says the property owner is William Goulburn, of Rochester, and the damage is over $1,000…

Sky lanterns are made with plastic or lightweight paper and are lifted into the air when burning material is ignited at the base making it lighter than air. They can travel for more than a mile, whichever way the wind blows. Sometimes the fuel is still burning when the device contacts a structure, a tree, or lands on the ground. Usually they are not retrieved and become someone else’s trash.

The dangerous devices are banned in 29 states and many counties and cities.

Illegal sky lantern lands on fire chief’s roof

A sky lantern recently landed on a fire chief’s roof in York Beach, Maine. For years Chief David Bridges has been trying to educate the public about the lantern law and the fire dangers they pose. He believes it is a common misconception that Maine legalized the lanterns after legalizing fireworks in 2012. However they are banned in Maine and in 28 other states.

sky lanterns banned states