Sky lantern ignites fire in California four-plex; Oregon may strengthen their ban

Sky Lantern poster

Investigators determined a fire that burned a portion of a four-plex structure in Santa Rosa, California was started by a sky lantern, sometimes called a Chinese lantern.

Below is an excerpt from an article in the Press Democrat:

…Investigators suspect [the] fire started when a floating paper lantern landed on the shake roof of a four-plex on Butte Drive off Hardies Lane. Firefighters limited the fire to a small section of the room, Lowenthal said.

“We found the remnants of a sky lantern on the roof,” Lowenthal said.

He said they suspect this is the second fire caused by a sky lantern in the neighborhood south of Piner Road in recent weeks…

Meanwhile legislators in Oregon have introduced a bill that would strengthen the laws regulating sky lanterns. Presently they are banned over state protected lands during fire season.

Below is an excerpt from the Statesman Journal:

…Just last week, a sky lantern released to celebrate a wedding in New Zealand set a home on fire.

Oregon Rep. David Gomberg, D-Lincoln City, is co-sponsoring a bill to ban the lanterns. He calls them “flying Sterno cans.”

“They are very pretty. And they’re pretty dangerous,” he said.

They’re also cheap: Walmart offers a set of 10 for $15.99.

Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, is the other sponsor.

“Given the stressed condition of our forests, whether it’s disease or drought or mismanagement, conflagration has become a clear and present danger,” Johnson said. “I believe one of the highest responsibilities of the legislature is not to let Oregon burn down on our watch.”

Counting Oregon, sky lanterns are banned in 29 states.

If you’re still not convinced that sky lanterns should be banned, here is an article about the problems they cause in Taiwan. It includes a photo of a dead owl tangled in a sky lantern.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.