'Sky lanterns' illegal in Oregon starting Jan. 1

Lawmakers approved ban due to fire danger

SALEM, Ore. - As of Jan. 1, sky lanterns -- also known as aerial luminaries, Chinese lanterns, mini hot air balloons, UFO balloons or wish lanterns – will be illegal to release into Oregon airspace, due to the fire danger they pose, the state Fire Marshal’s Office advised Tuesday.

A sky lantern is a paper sack suspended over a flame, usually from a small candle or other lit device. The hot air from the flame causes the balloon to rise into the air and be carried off by the wind.

"Although they are pretty, sky lanterns are uncontrolled, open-flamed devices that pose an extreme fire hazard to people, property, and the environment," said Oregon Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple. "Once released, you have no control over where they may land. They could end up on someone's rooftop, in a tree, or a pile of debris and cause an unwanted fire."

A number of states, as well as countries such as Germany, Australia, and Brazil, have outlawed sky lanterns, officials said.

Under the new state law approved by lawmakers, releasing a sky lantern into Oregon airspace will be a Class A violation, subject to a maximum penalty of $2,000.

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