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Sky lanterns: They may be beautiful and legal, but beware of danger and liability



reno-logo-117x150-8632930-4103124Due to the unpredictability and difficulty in controlling sky lanterns, the Reno Fire Department wants to remind residents that the use of the lanterns (also known as Chinese lanterns or paper lanterns) pose a serious fire danger and threat to life safety.

“The concept for the lanterns is for them to fly and have the flame extinguish by itself,” says Interim Reno Fire Marshal Dave Cochran. “Unfortunately, that is not often the case and tragedies can occur. Though these lanterns aren’t illegal here, they pose a very serious danger and we discourage residents from using them. People using them may face civil or criminal liability if one of these lanterns starts a fire.”

Sky lanterns are typically made from rice paper and bamboo and come in a variety shapes and sizes. A lighted candle or similar fuel compartment is located at the base of the lantern. Once heated the air is trapped inside the paper lantern, which causes it to rise into the sky.

“Once the lanterns reach the air, it’s completely up to nature where it travels, how fast it gets there, how long it stays in the air, where it lands or how long it burns,” advises Cochran.

Maryland, South Carolina, Virginia, Hawaii and the city of Mukilteo, Wash., are just some locations that have prohibited the use of these paper lanterns due to the serious risks associated with them.

For more information on fire safety contact the Reno Fire Department’s Division of Fire Prevention at 334-2300.

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