Sky lantern probable cause of fire at Vermont brewery

sky lantern fire roof structure burlington vermont
The fire department extinguished a fire on the roof of the Zero Gravity brewery in Burlington, Vermont Tuesday. Screengrab from WCAX video.

A sky lantern landing on the roof is the most likely cause of a fire that resulted in about $40,000 in damage to a business in Burlington, Vermont early Tuesday morning.

The Burlington Free Press reported that the fire department responded at 3:15 a.m. to the fire on the roof of the Zero Gravity brewery.

The fire is still under investigation but the fire department wrote in a report, “the most probable cause was identified as a ‘sky lantern’ landing on the roof of the building and igniting the roof.”

Officials said there were multiple reports of sky lanterns with open flames being launched earlier that night from Callahan Park.

Sky lanterns are prohibited in the City of Burlington, but there is no state law in Vermont regulating them.

These dangerous devices use burning material to loft a small paper or plastic hot air balloon into the air. The perpetrator has no control over where it lands. Usually the fire goes out before it hits the ground, but not always. Sometimes the envelope catches fire while in flight or it can get blown down to the ground or on the roof of a structure by the wind. Numerous fires have been started by sky lanterns. Even if they don’t ignite a fire, they leave litter on the ground. Metal parts have been picked up by hay balers causing serious problems when fed to livestock. They are banned in most U.S. states and many countries.

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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.