There is a report that a sky lantern started a wildfire in Colorado on Saturday, March 12. A writer on Pinecam.com said that between 11:00 and 11:45 p.m. one of three of the devices that were released landed in vegetation and started a small brush fire. It occurred near Pine Grove, which is another name for Pine, Colorado. (map)
If this had happened in August rather than March, we might be writing a different story. The town is at 6,700 feet elevation, so there’s a good chance that the fuels are still somewhat wet or there could be snow. Nearby ridges are at 7,000 to 8,000 feet.
Sky lanterns were blamed for starting other fires just last month. One near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin burned 15 acres and another is thought to have ignited a four-plex structure in Santa Rosa, California.
Sky lanterns are banned statewide in 30 states, but not in Colorado.
These devices are small plastic or paper-covered hot air balloons powered by an open flame. They can travel uncontrolled for more than a mile, sometimes landing while the fire is still burning.
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Allen.