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Aerial Luminary, Sky Lantern Ban Becomes Law

Posted July 10, 2012, 07:04 AM HST
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State of Hawaii seal, file photo by Wendy Osher.

By Wendy Osher

A bill to ban aerial luminaries or sky lanterns is set to become law today.

House Bill 2113 imposes a total ban on the items, including the ignition, possession, sale or use.

Over the past year, fire departments reported an increase in use of sky lanterns, which are paper lanterns with an open flame.

A small candle inside heats the air in the lantern, causing it to rise for several hundred feet and remain airborne until the heat expires.

The lanterns, authorities say, can remain airborne for over four minutes, and pose a potential hazard by interfering with aircraft, flying into power lines, landing on roof tops, and landing in combustible vegetation posing a brush fire risk.

According to authorities, sky lanterns can reach an estimated altitude of 400-500 feet, a height of which local air traffic may fly in certain areas of the State as permitted by the FAA.

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Depending on wind speed and direction, official say the lanterns also have the ability to travel an estimated lateral distance of up to 1150 feet.

The bill was introduced by State Representative Ryan Yamane, who will bring a sky lantern to the bill signing to show the public what the device looks like before it is lit.

“This new law will save lives, property and protect our aina,” said Rep. Yamane.  “Even though these lanterns look beautiful in the sky, they pose a serious and dangerous threat of fire,” he said.

“The State Fire Council believes the uncontrolled release of aerial luminaries, or sky lanterns pose a potential danger to life and property,” said Fire Chief Ken Silva, Honolulu Fire Department.

“This uncontrolled, open-flame device can land on combustible vegetation, buildings, or power lines and interfere with aircraft flight patterns,” said Silva.

Upon signing, the ban takes effect immediately.

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