Sky lanterns have become increasingly popular as a way to celebrate. But they pose a serious fire hazard and their use is prohibited by NFPA. Thousands of spectators who attended a lantern festival recently in Gastonia, North Carolina, got to see the dangers of sky lanterns up close.
According to Time Warner News Cable–Charlotte, as the sun set on the Carolina Speedway, thousands of lanterns filled the sky. But then the wind shifted, pushing burning lanterns into a nearby cell tower, causing it to catch on fire.
The Union Road Volunteer Fire Department was already on hand in case of emergency, but the ladder truck couldn’t reach the fire, there were no hydrants nearby, and it wasn’t the kind of fire the department had fought before. It took 20 firefighters, nearly 6,000 gallons of water, and help from a neighboring department to put the fire out. No one was injured.
NFPA’s Sky Lanterns Safety tips sheet provides information on the hazards of sky lanterns and details on recent fires involving them.