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Public Communications (MS-11)
614 Division Street, Port Orchard, WA
Phone: 360.337.4598
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: June 23, 2015
Contact: David Lynam, Kitsap County Fire Marshal
Phone: 360.337.4442 or dlynam@co.kitsap.wa.us
No: NR15-061

County Commissioners issue emergency ordinance banning sky lanterns

(Port Orchard, WA)  The Kitsap County Board of County Commissioners passed an ordinance to eliminate the use of sky lanterns at their regular meeting yesterday. “Sky lanterns are a beautiful way to celebrate,” said Dave Lynam, County Fire Marshal, “but they present a very real and dangerous fire risk.”

Sky lanterns are essentially small, unmanned, hot air balloons. They are made of oiled rice paper on a bamboo or wire frame. A small candle or fuel cell made of a waxy combustible material heats the air inside the lantern causing it to float. Once lit, they have the ability to float 1,500 feet in altitude, travel up to 20 miles from the point of release and can land on combustible materials.

“These Lanterns are balls of fire falling from the sky and you can’t control where they land,” said Lynam. "They can cause structure fires when they land on rooftops, vehicles, power lines, gardens or lawns," Lynam added.

 In July of 2011 a sky lantern falling on the roof of a house near Poulsbo Washington caused an estimated $275,000 in fire damage. In July of 2013 a sky lantern landed on a hillside and created a 500-acre wildfire in Selah, WA. Last month a cell phone tower caught fire shortly after lanterns were launched as part of Lantern Fest in Gastonia, NC.

In addition to damage to structures lanterns have caused serious burns and injuries to people, animals and livestock, and present a risk to aviation if they are sucked into an engine. “Dry summer conditions only increase the danger,” said Lynam. “It doesn’t really make sense to send fire into the sky with no way to mitigate the risk present when it lands,” Lyman added.

The resolution takes effect immediately. Penalties for violating the ordinance may include confiscation as well as civil infraction and reimbursement for the damage caused, including the cost of emergency responses.

KC Ordinance No. 523-2015

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Last Updated:  June 23, 2015