News Release, Office of the State Fire Marshal
STATEWIDE (June 24, 2020) –State Fire Marshal Geraci would like to remind Maryland residents and visitors that using aerial luminaries, commonly referred to as “Sky Lanterns,” is prohibited throughout the State.
The Office of the State Fire Marshal regularly receives requests from the public concerning these devices, typically constructed with oiled rice paper on bamboo frames, which are released into the atmosphere. A candle or fuel cell is ignited within the device, causing the trapped air inside to become heated. The hot air allows the lantern to rise and float away with the upper air currents. Once airborne, they may travel significant distances away from the release site and return to earth, often before the flame is fully extinguished. This action can result in combustibles at the landing site to become engulfed in flames, potentially creating an uncontrolled fire involving a structure or vegetation.
The fire risk associated with these devices encourages fire safety officials to restrict their use in the best interest of public safety.
Attached is a video received from a concerned citizen from Essex, Baltimore County, Maryland. The surveillance video captures a sky lantern floating into the yard, landing in the grass, and continuing to burn for approximately one and a half minutes. Luckily, the device did not fall on the pool cover or any of the structures on the property. The citizens became aware of the event after waking the next morning and finding the burnt remnants, see photos attached. The video can be found at the link: https://youtu.be/JNmbG0kP4K4
The images below show the remains of sky lanterns, which have fallen into citizens’ yards recently. “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,” states State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci. “We must protect the lives and property of the citizens we serve. These devices represent a threat to public safety and aviation.”