Police say sky lantern caused fire and explosion at oil storage facility

A large tank holding gasoline exploded in Goyang, Korea.

sky lantern fire
A police spokesperson speaks during a press conference Tuesday. Another officer is holding a sky lantern that police believe caused a fire at an oil storage facility. (Yonhap)

Police detained a man in Goyang, Korea Monday for allegedly starting a fire that destroyed a tank holding 2.66 million liters of gasoline, enough to fill 250 tank trucks.

“Surveillance camera footage showed the fire started after the lantern landed on the grass,” a police official said. “We questioned people living around the area and confirmed the man launched the sky lantern.”

The police believe the sky lantern may have started the fire when it fell on the lawn of the oil storage facility, causing flames that later spread into the ventilation system of the oil tank, causing the explosion.

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. 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.

Power outage hits Hong Kong trains, sky lantern seen as culprit

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

A sky lantern is suspected of causing a power outage on a railroad in Hong Kong, causing four trains to be disrupted for 25 minutes until repairs were made.

Below is an excerpt from an article at ejinsight.com:


Passengers aboard the trains were forced to wait in the cars before services gradually resumed about 25 minutes later after repairs were carried out.

MTR personnel investigating the incident found the remains of a sky lantern on top of one of the trains, although the railway operator did not confirm whether it had triggered the power failure, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

Earlier that day, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) reminded the public that it is an offense to fly sky lanterns.

Under the law, people who fly sky lanterns could face a maximum fine of HK$2,000 and up to 14 days of imprisonment.

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. 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.

Do not use sky lanterns on July 4

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

In the United States July 4 is a holiday commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. For many people it involves fireworks which can be beautiful when conducted by professionals at an organized event, but can be dangerous in the hands of those buying them at tents set up on the side if the road, causing injuries and starting fires.

An especially hazardous device that can be classified as fireworks are sky lanterns. The Jefferson City, Missouri Times Tribune has an editorial, warning about the dangers of fireworks. Below is an excerpt:

…Sky lanterns are another concern. Like other fireworks, they’re illegal to release inside the city limits. However, that hasn’t stopped some people from using the pretty-but-potentially-dangerous items.

Once a sky lantern is lit, the hot air lifts it into the air.

The flaming lantern can travel more than a mile from its starting point.

Wind can affect the sky lantern, blowing the sides, forcing the hot air out and sending it back to the ground, while still burning. A flaming lantern can drop onto a rooftop, field, trees or power lines before the flame is fully extinguished. A destructive fire can result when a flaming lantern reaches the ground during dry conditions.

Obviously, sky lanterns are potential fire hazards beyond other fireworks.

We urge you to avoid them, and to follow the fireworks laws in general.

Too often sky lanterns get caught on trees, roofscell phone towers, or land on the ground when the flames are still active and ignite damaging fires. They are banned in most U.S. states and many countries.

Fire Chief finds charred sky lantern on his roof

charred burned sky lantern fire illegal
Chief of the International Falls, MN Fire Department, Adam Mannausau, displaying an illegal sky lantern that landed on the roof of his house. Photo: International Falls FD.

When the Chief of the International Falls Fire Department was backing out of his driveway last week in Minnesota he spotted something on his roof that was not supposed to be there. Chief Adam Mannausau discovered it was a charred sky lantern.

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. Numerous fires have been started on the ground 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

Sky lanterns are illegal in at least 30 states, including Minnesota.

sky lantern launch fire dangerous
File photo of a sky lantern.
Sky lanterns launch hundreds fire wildfire dangerous
Sky lanterns are sometimes launched by the hundreds at organized events. File photo.

Sky lantern incident — 15 people injured and 4 houses destroyed

A sky lantern caused burn injuries to 15 people when one of the dangerous devices landed on a shop in the Indian state of West Bengal. The fire spread to four kutcha houses, gutting them, and injured 13 adults and two children who were all admitted to Tamluk hospital.

Police said six people, including the two children, were in serious condition.

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, roofscell 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.

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.

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