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Are these 'night lanterns' safe to use?

    YATES COUNTY—Flying lanterns are known by many different names. They are a paper lantern that has been popular for some around the lake this year.
    The lanterns are also called sky lanterns, Chinese lanterns and wish lanterns. The ones used around Keuka Lake this year have been about three feet in height when air born. The devices are made of paper and have a candle attached to a wire base. When the candle is lit, the hot air fills the inside of the lantern and sends it floating into the air. According to different brands, they are eventually supposed to extinguish and float to the ground elsewhere or burn up.
    However, that is what has officials and other residents concerned. Sheriff Ron Spike said his marine patrol unit had received a few complaints about the lanterns this summer and have reservations about the lanterns themselves. He explained the paper devices have a chance to cause a fire if they land on something while still burning.
    Spike said a person could possibly be charged with arson in the fourth degree if they were to intentionally light the lantern, let it float away, and it landed somewhere causing a blaze. He added it could be considered a reckless or a negligent act. Spike said the marine patrol unit is also looking into if the metal parts of the lantern can get tangled up in the propeller of a boat motor. A number of the metal rings were found in the lake.
    “They are pretty things to view,” said Spike as to why people use the lanterns.
    Dundee fire Chief Ray Miller said, “I don’t think they’re safe.” He too added that given dry conditions, a lantern could land and start a fire if still burning.
    “I don’t think people know what happens when they let (the lanterns) fly off,” said Bruce Castner, Barrington resident and board member.
    He added he found five of the lanterns after the Fourth of July weekend on his property. Castner said one ended up on the roof of his winery. He said his son found two, including one under the porch of Sunny Point, which is owned by the Yates County Arts Center.
    Castner said that luckily the ground was wet, so there was less of a chance of something catching on fire. He added knows other people who saw the lanterns come down from the sky while partially on fire. He said during the Fourth of July weekend the owners of Barrington Cellars went out to extinguish the lanterns as they landed on the property.




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