Sky lanterns, now banned in Md., illuminate winter celebrations

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Sky lanterns, essentially small paper hot air balloons, have grown in popularity recently after being used and made in Asia for years. In some festivals, hundreds of balloons float in the air, illuminating the night sky.

That won’t be the case in Maryland. Responding to increased use of the balloons, Maryland’s fire marshal has explicitly banned sky lanterns, citing their ability to start fires.

Md. fire marshal bans sky lanterns
By Jean Marbella, The Baltimore Sun
February 15, 2013

Maryland’s Fire Marshall has banned sky lanterns, the increasingly popular paper balloons that are sent aloft by the heat of a candle or fuel cell suspended from the bottom.

“They’re made with oiled rice paper and bamboo — it’s almost kindling,” said Deputy State Fire Marshal Bruce D. Bouch. “They have to land somewhere, and sometimes they’re still partly on fire when they hit the ground. They’ve been known to ignite dry vegetation.”

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