With the Fourth of July just around the corner, the Office of the State Fire Marshal is reminding Marylanders that using “sky lanterns” is illegal in the state.
Sky lanterns, also known as “Chinese lanterns,” are usually made of oiled rice paper on bamboo frames with a candle or fuel cell inside. Once lit, air gets trapped inside and heats up the object, making it rise and float away.
The lanterns can travel far from their release site. The fire marshal said they can often land before the flame is fully extinguished, which could cause a structure or vegetation to catch fire.
The fire marshal referenced a 2017 video of a sky lantern floating into an Essex yard, where it landed in the grass, barely missing a pool cover and other structures, and burned for an additional minute and a half. The residents found the burnt remnants the next morning.
“The use of sky lanterns during any celebration can turn into tragedy if they land on someone’s house, over any flammable materials or people,” State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci said in a release. “We must protect the lives and property of the citizens we serve. These devices represent a threat to public safety and aviation.”