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Beautiful But Dangerous: Md. Bans Use Of Sky Lanterns

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—They are used for celebration and tribute, but now Maryland has banned the use of aerial luminaries known as sky lanterns.

Tim Williams has more on why.

You ignite them, inflate them, and they take to the skies as a lighted tribute or celebration.

But Maryland is now expanding its ban on the use of aerial luminaries.

“The ban itself has always been in effect. What has transpired is the Maryland Fire Prevention Commission has specifically listed the terminology as sky lanterns as being an amendment to the code,” said Bruce Bouch, deputy state fire marshal.

The devices are typically constructed with oiled rice paper on a bamboo frame. They are released into the atmosphere after a candle or fuel cell is ignited, causing the trapped air inside to become heated.

But because the lanterns rise upward and float away uncontrolled, they can travel significant distances and can return to earth often before the flame is fully extinguished.

“If it makes contact with any dry vegetation or just even somebody’s paper trash goods out by the sidewalk for pickup, even next to their garage, the potential is there for an uncontrolled fire,” Bouch explained.

Sky lanterns are considered fire balloons and in the same category as aerial fireworks, which are also illegal in Maryland but are readily available in stores. That’s the reason for the updated ban.

“These are uncontrolled devices that float into the air that are on fire. And at some point in time, you could really make someone’s day very tragic,” Bouch said.

For more information on fire safety, click here.

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